Death of Chávez touches students at South

Ryan Wiskerchen, Staff Writer

Hugo Chávez has been the president of Venezuela since 1999. For the last fourteen years, citizens of this South American country have had their lives affected by his rule, and Venezuelan emigrants to the United States are no exception. Chávez’s death on March 5th, 2013, will bring changes in the economy, international and internal politics of Venezuela, and the personal lives of those connected to the country.

Junior Simon Quevedo left Venezuela at the age of nine, and is still connected to his home country through his family.  “I have all of my family there,” he said, “a lot of people who are here are my brothers and sisters, my mom and dad, but the rest of my family is still in Venezuela.”

Quevedo said, growing up in Venezuela “was good until the economy started going bad. My dad worked for the main oil refinery.”  But the good fortune wasn’t to last.  “During his [Chávez] second election,he started changing things around,” Quevedo explained, “in the big companies, if people didn’t vote for him, they’d get laid off.  After that, things got a bit rough.”

“We had to move out of the apartment we lived in.  He [Quevedo’s dad] came here and applied for political asylum.”  The rest of Quevedo’s immediate family followed in 2006.  “It was really stressful,” he said, “I was nine, but I could still tell things were pretty rough and I can tell things have only gotten worse since I was there.”

Quevedo’s personal opinion of Chávez is, “In a political way, he wasn’t the smartest guy at being president.”  Citing the deceased president’s ownership of two private planes, Quevedo said, “Even though Venezuela has a lot of wealth, all that money just went to his wealth.”

With Chávez gone Quevedo thinks that, “it might be a way for the country to get up on its two feet and get better economically.” He added, “hopefully we’re looking at a country where the crime rates will go down. Right now it’s very hard to find work.”

“Some people see him as a great leader,” Quevedo admitted, but “to me, he’s a rough patch that Venezuela had to go through for fourteen years.”