Daniel Lansberg-Rodriguez '13 on the Death of Hugo Chavez

How Chávez changed my life
Daniel Lansberg-Rodriguez '13
Foreign Policy
March 6, 2013

When Hugo Chávez first became president of Venezuela I was sixteen years old and just coming into my political consciousness. Now I am in my thirties.  Through all that time I can think of no political opinion, no vote, no broad social view that has not been affected -- even defined -- by this singular man and his unstoppable vision. And now he is dead. Officially dead. The enormity of that one fact is such that the myriad uncertainties this news bring with it, for now, seem somehow unimportant. 

In Chávez's Venezuela I learned about fear. Both the small hyperactive fear of personal danger and the far more overwhelming fear that all is lost; that the revolution has won yet again. To many of us, each new victory brought with it new tragedies. The dispersal of my family to faraway continents. The persecution and imprisonment of friends and colleagues. The expropriations. The violence. 

That is all burned into me now, and countless others. Hugo Chávez: A man whose single-minded pursuit of whatever it was he was pursuing; power, social justice, immortality, redefined Venezuela's place in the world.