By Dustin Hurst | Watchdog.org
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho – Venezuela’s controversial president Hugo Chavez died Tuesday afternoon after a protracted battle with cancer and one U.S. lawmaker is especially sad about his passing.
New York Democratic Rep. Jose Serrano took to Twitter to express his condolences and praise the fallen leader.
Here’s the tweet Serrano authored Tuesday:
Chavez leaves a mixed legacy. He, indeed, worked to redistribute wealth to the country’s poor and build up social programs, but he also attempted to crush political opponents, including the media.
Here’s a quick look at the tyrannical portion of his tenure in office, via CNN:
But Chavez also leaves a legacy of repression against politicians and private media who opposed him.
He concentrated power in the executive branch, turning formerly independent institutions — such as the judiciary, the electoral authorities and the military — into partisan loyalists.
Through decrees and a judiciary tilted in the president’s favor, many political opponents found themselves barred from running in elections against the ruling party. Even former allies, like Chavez’s onetime defense minister, Gen. Raul Baduel, faced accusations that critics called trumped-up corruption charges.
Chavez’s government similarly targeted opposition broadcasters, passing laws and decrees that forced at least one major broadcaster and dozens of smaller radio and television stations off the air.
Update: After Serrano took criticism for the tweet, his office quickly wrote a lengthy statement explaining the mournful message. Here’s a snippet of that:
President Chavez was a controversial leader. But at his core he was a man who came from very little and used his unique talents and gifts to try to lift up the people and the communities that reflected his impoverished roots. He believed that the government of the country should be used to empower the masses, not the few. He understood democracy and basic human desires for a dignified life. His legacy in his nation, and in the hemisphere, will be assured as the people he inspired continue to strive for a better life for the poor and downtrodden.
Contact: Dustin@Watchdog.org or @DustinHurst via Twitter.