Venezuela President Hugo Chavez’s sudden return to Venezuela on Monday was met with numerous criticisms and demands from leaders of the opposition parties.
The Venezuelan president arrived in Venezuela unannounced early Monday morning after spending more than two months in Cuba where he was recovering from cancer surgery.
Chavez will now continue treatment for cancer in the Dr. Carlos Arvelo military hospital in Caracas, where he was taken immediately upon arriving in Venezuela.
Chavez supporters celebrated his arrival in various parts of the country on Monday, whereas the news generated a flurry of criticism among opposition leaders.
Various opposition politicians accused the government of making a spectacle of the event, and of trying to divert attention, while others criticized the secrecy surrounding Chavez’s situation.
“It is natural for the President to be here in his own country. But to create a spectacle with this event…does nothing for Venezuela,” said an official statement from the opposition coalition MUD.
Opposition politician Leopoldo López insisted that Venezuelans should know whether or not Chavez can return to the presidency, and accused the government of manipulating the truth.
“The government needs to stop manipulating the personal situation of the President in order to hide or divert attention away from the principal problems in the country,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Venezuelans want to know if he can take possession for his new term,” he said.
Former presidential candidate Diego Arria criticized the fact that Chavez entered the country early in the morning unannounced and unseen.
“How embarrassing that they have to bring the president into his own country as if he were contraband,” he said.
Other opposition leaders used the occasion to criticize the recent devaluation of the currency, and demanded that Chavez reverse the measure.
“Now that we see that he has begun to communicate via Twitter, we ask him in the name of all Venezuelans, if he can find a way to reverse the economic measures that have hit everyone so hard and unjustly,” wrote head of Primero Jusiticia (First Justice) Julio Borges on Twitter.
Former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles called for “the immediate halting” of what he referred to as a “package” of economic measures.
“We welcome him back to Venezuela. I hope his return will create sanity in his government,” wrote Capriles.
Others insisted that nothing has changed, and that the country needs to know that status of the president’s health in order to know if he can continue as president.
“We have to clear up doubts about his ability to govern. We have asked the Supreme Court to order a medical commission, but nothing has been done,” said Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma.
“Has Chavez come back to govern? No one knows who is in charge, but whoever is running things is doing a very bad job,” said opposition lawmaker Delsa Solórzano.
Chavez’s return comes only days after several photos were released of the president in his hospital bed and accompanied by two of his daughters.
Opposition leaders also responded to this news with a series of criticisms and accusations that the photos had been faked.
“Some of the president’s followers are telling me that they don’t believe anything the government is saying,” wrote Capriles on Twitter after the photos were released.
Others said the photos were proof that Chavez is not fit to continue at the head of his government, and insisted that government officials were lying about his true ability to make decisions.
“The photos show a person who is alive, but in a very critical state of health, without enough strength to lift a newspaper or sit up,” said UCV professor Mariana Bacalao.Response to Opposition Comments
Various pro-Chavez officials responded to the comments from the opposition, criticizing them for being disrespectful of the president and his followers.
Communication Minister Ernesto Villegas accused opposition leaders of making “necrophilic” comments, and said they were “disturbed” by Chavez’s return to the country.
“The behavior of some opposition leaders is very sad. They have driven themselves into a corner with so many lies and now they are very disturbed,” he said, referring to the various lies and speculation spread by the opposition and by mainstream press during Chavez’s treatment in Cuba.
“They should be ashamed of themselves. This just shows the inhumanity of these politicians,” said the governor of Falcon state Stella Lugo.
Vice-president Nicolas Maduro called on opposition leaders to be respectful and to refrain from making comments that show their unhappiness with the return of Chavez.
“If you all are unhappy, just be quiet. If you are upset, it is better for you to be silent than to make these ironic, and disrespectful comments,” he said.
Villegas assured that the government would continue to inform the country with any updates on the president’s situation.
“Obviously we will continue to give updates, whether it is good news or bad. But we are sure that it will be good news,” he said.