Freelance Journalist, Phil Gunson
Supporters of the late Hugo Chavez took to the streets weeping and singing and stayed there well into the night. They were there to mark the passing of the man they lovingly called "Commandante". Of course plenty of other Venezuelans stayed home ... silently hoping that in the months and years to come, the Bolivarian Revolution President Chavez personified might at least lose some of its sharper edges, or even evaporate into the history books altogether.
In the almost 15 years he spent as President, Hugo Chavez reinvented his country's political system from top to bottom. His supporters point to the state-run food markets, new public housing, free health clinics and new education programs. His detractors note that he shut down independent media, co-opted the judiciary and consolidated power.
Hugo Chavez's death leaves Venezuela in a precarious position. It leaves other left-leaning leaders in the region without one of their most powerful allies. And it removes a sharp and very persistent thorn from the sides of Western governments.
Phil Gunson covered much of Hugo Chavez' political career. He is a freelance journalist based in Venezuela. He writes primarily for The Economist magazine and he was in Caracas.
Venezuelan economist blogger, Juan Nagel
Director of Council on Hemispheric Affairs, Larry Birns
Larry Birns is the Director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in Washington and a long-time observer of Latin American politics. He was in Washington.
This segment was produced by The Current's Jessica deMello, Lara O'Brien and Sujata Berry.
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