Hugo Chavez's death: Who's mourning, and who's cheering

People in Venezuela are divided after the death of their fiery socialist president. Americans are, too

Venezuelan supporters of Hugo Chavez react in Caracas
(Image credit: AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

The death of Venezuela's controversial president, Hugo Chavez, has left his South American nation bitterly divided. Vice President Nicolas Maduro, who will fill in until Venezuelans elect a new leader, called on his countrymen to mourn as one, saying, "Let there be no weakness, no violence. Let there be no hate. In our hearts there should only be one sentiment: Love." Still, many Venezuelans are bracing for an uncertain future, as some people grieve while others look forward to rolling back Chavez's staunchly anti-U.S. socialist revolution. The reaction has been divided in the U.S., too.

Movie star Sean Penn summed up the sentiments of many on the Left this way: "Today the people of the United States lost a friend it never knew it had." Penn met Chavez in 2007 and attended a vigil for him in Bolivia in December. "And poor people around the world lost a champion. I lost a friend I was blessed to have." Filmmaker Michael Moore praised Chavez for spending much of his country's oil wealth on the poor, and director Oliver Stone, who celebrated Chavez and other left-wing South American leaders in his 2009 documentary South of the Border, said Chavez was "hated by the entrenched classes" but would be remembered as "a great hero to the majority of his people."

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Harold Maass, The Week US

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at The Week. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 debut of the U.S. print edition and served as editor of when it launched in 2008. Harold started his career as a newspaper reporter in South Florida and Haiti. He has previously worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, ABC News and Fox News, and for several years wrote a daily roundup of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance.