Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died Tuesday at the age of 58, after a two-year battle with cancer.
As explained by Reuters, Chavez was a 'socialist showman' who transformed his country.
Chavez easily won a new six-year term at an election in October and his death is devastating for millions of supporters who adored his charismatic style, anti-U.S. rhetoric and oil-financed policies that brought subsidized food and free health clinics to long-neglected slums.
Detractors, however, saw his one-man style, gleeful nationalizations and often harsh treatment of opponents as traits of an egotistical dictator whose misplaced statist economics wasted a historic bonanza of oil revenues.
Canada's politicians were quick to release statements about his death. Given Chavez's controversial nature, however, the reactions were somewhat guarded.
Prime Minister Harper in a statement:
"I would like to offer my condolences to the people of Venezuela on the passing of President Chávez.
"Canada looks forward to working with his successor and other leaders in the region to build a hemisphere that is more prosperous, secure and democratic.
"At this key juncture, I hope the people of Venezuela can now build for themselves a better, brighter future based on the principles of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights."
Liberal leader Bob Rae via Twitter:
The death of Hugo Chavez marks turning inVenezuelan politics - we send our condolences, and hopes for democratic future for a great people
— Bob Rae (@bobraeMP) March 6, 2013
NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar via Twitter:
Condolences to President Chavez’s family and the people of Venezuela. We reaffirm the enduring bonds between our two countries. — Paul Dewar (@PaulDewar) March 5, 2013
Former Prime Minister Jean Chretien on CBC's Power and Politics:
"He was a very colourful politician who [has] very different policies than many of us.
"We always had very good private discussions. An anecdote, he was a great baseball fan and player and he always told me that when if I were to visit him in Venezuela we would go to a baseball field and he would throw balls to me for me to hit them, you know. And we never had the occasion to do that.
"He was very colourful and very unusual and he did his best even if we did not agree at all times on many issues."
(Photo courtesy of the Reuters)
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