The FARC, Colombia’s largest guerrilla group, mourned the death of Hugo Chavez and on Tuesday said that the spirit of the fallen autocrat will live on.
The rebels released a statement from the “mountains of Colombia” that called Chavez a champion of “peace, social justice, independence and socialism.”
“Hugo Chavez now occupies a place of honor in the history of Venezuela, next to Simon Bolivar and [revolutionary leader] Ezequiel Zamora…His ideas and work form part of the universal arsenal of ideas of all the people who are fighting for liberty,” the FARC wrote.
In another statement, the FARC’s delegation in Havana, Cuba, said that the political trajectory of Chavez showed that “socialism [is] a human right and we have to fight for it until the ultimate consequenses.”
The insurgents urged Venezuela’s armed forces to continue “defending” Chavez’s self-proclaimed Bolivarian Revolution. For his part, the new president of Venezuela, the former vice president Nicolas Maduro, has vowed to do just that. The 50-year-old former bus driver will likely face opposition from the runner-up of last year’s election, Henrique Capriles. Venezuelan authorities said the vote would be called within 30 days, but it was not clear if that meant it would be held within 30 days or whether the date would be announced in that period.
Hugo Chavez had an ambivalent relationship with the Colombian insurgents. Though he supported the ideals espoused by the guerrillas, he also worked with Colombian authorities to extradite rebels from Venezuela to Colombia.
Chavez had a highly publicized tempestuous relationship with former Colombian president, Alvaro Uribe. The latter accused the former of harboring members of the FARC — a claim categorically denied by Venezuelan authorities. It is a well-known fact, however, that the guerrillas use the border areas to plan and carry out attacks on Colombian soil. Since Juan Manuel Santos took power, Chavez toned down his infamous rhetoric.
- Delegación de Paz FARC-EP_Se une al duelo del mundo ante la triste noticia, del fallecimiento del Comandante Presidente, Hugo Chávez (FARC Blog)
- HASTA SIEMPRE COMANDANTE HUGO CHAVEZ (Official FARC homepage)
- Elections loom as Venezuelans mourn Chavez (Taipei Times)
- Para nosotros Chávez seguirá vivo: FARC (Caracol Radio)