In his twelve-year run as president he has made headlines around the world. Who can ever forget the historical boldness of Chavez when he went right in President Bush’s yard and called him the devil?
Chavez, however, has also been of help to us here in St Vincent. The much talked about “Labour Gas” is the initiative of his regime. He continues to offer LPG for many in the island. Chavez is now making global headlines but of a different sort. While in Cuba last month he was forced to have emergency surgery: the diagnosis, cancer.
Now, after just returning home, he is back in Cuba for Chemotherapy tomorrow, Sunday 17.
The Opposition in Venezuela is ranting that he should delegate his presidential duties to his VP but Chavez would have none of it.
But the point I wish to get at here is the facing of his mortality by this political militant. The US media has already surfaced reports that he has colon cancer. Mr Chavez has only said a cancerous tumour was removed from his “pelvic region”.
I am certain Hugo does not want to appear weak and unable to lead his revolutionary efforts in the Bolivian republic; however, he is learning that mortal man is no match for circumstance. In an unprecedented move he actually handed some of his presidential roles to his finance minister and VP. His must be a condition that has the potential for being life threatening. While in Cuba his doctors advised him to stay there for up to the reported 180 days, but Chavez suddenly came home to appease any growing factions of rebellion about his ineligibility to preside over the country.
The fact that he is, once again, in Cuba says the seriousness of his ailment.
In his usual attempts at being fully in charge of the situation, President Chavez last words at the airport was “it’s not time to die, it’s time to live.”
I am reminded of another Caribbean political leader, Mr David Thompson, former PM of Barbados. He, too, was diagnosed with cancer and had to seek medical treatment abroad. However, Mr Thompson never once indicated that he knew for a fact he was going to live. Yes, he admitted he would fight with all his might, but he also told the Barbados people that his “fate is in the hands of the Lord.”
David Thompson died of pancreatic cancer not too long after that radio address from a New York hospital bed.
Why does Mr Chavez on the other hand want to give the impression that his life is in his hands? He believes in his military training so much that he cannot accept there are situations where he cannot strategize his way out. He also categorically told his citizens that he will come back better than he is leaving.
I assume that if Mr Chavez is to be in therapy for the rest of this year then Venezuela will be nearing the time of a new leader selection. There is something about pride and illness that just doesn’t sync.
Have Vincentians lit their last “Labour Gas” bottle?