SWLA reacts to death of Chavez - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

SWLA reacts to death of Chavez

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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

A young and healthy Hugo Chavez visited Citgo in Southwest Louisiana, some 10 years ago, since Citgo is owned by Venezuela. Yet, in this country, he's been called a dictator and a tyrant -- anti-American and anti democracy. 

And some local people from Venezuela, such as Yajaira Rada and Hernando Moran, agree.

"It's a  new era, who's going to lead Venezuela. We want a Venezuela in peace. We want a Venezuela happy," said Rada, who has been in the U.S. for about sixteen years.

Moran has been here closer to 30 years.

"He (Chavez) did a lot of damage to the country. I feel he had a lot of blood on his hands. A lot of people had to leave the country, had to leave their heart over there," said Moran.

McNeese political scientist Henry Sirgo says before Chavez, Venezuela was the most democratic country in South America. 

"From 1958 until basically the first time Chavez tried to overthrow the government in 1992 it was a quite well functioning democracy," said Sirgo.

He hopes Chavez passing will mean better days for the people of Venezuela.

"See what happens with the next election. I think if somebody other than the vice president wins, I think there's hope for Venezuela regressing toward a more democratic less authoritarian society," said Sirgo.

While local residents from Venezuela acknowledge Chavez' help to the poor, they say so many have suffered and had to leave their homeland.

"We couldn't find jobs. All our companies where we were working closed their doors," Rada said.

Moran said people who opposed Chavez were blacklisted, but eventually the whole economy suffered.

" Venezuelans right now, their salaries for all the Venezuelans are 25 percent, of what it was in 1978," said Moran.

With Chavez' passing, they hope to see an improved economy and democracy in Venezuela.  
Elections must be held within 30 days of Chavez's death.

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