Chavez Celebrates a Decade in Power

Latin American leaders gathered this week to celebrate Hugo Chavez and his 10 years as President of Venezuela. Chavez strolled through the National Pantheon, a square in Caracas that holds the remains of famed revolutionary leader Simon Bolivar. Also in attendance to help the President celebrate were Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, Jose Manuel Zelaya of Honduras, and Evo Morales of Bolivia.

Bolivar had a vision of a unified South America and in 1819 founded Gran Colombia, a federation of what is now Venezuela, Colombia, Panama and Ecuador. Chavez frequently quotes him and refers to him as the "father of the revolution." It still remains unclear as to whom Chavez's real daddy is, since while addressing Fidel Castro (unable to make the trip due to illness) he said, "Revolutionary father, from here, your sons and daughters, salute you!"

Chavez declared the day a national holiday and while he walked through the packed square, embracing his supporters and kissing babies, many in the crowd chanted, "Chavez! Chavez!"

Chavez was democratically elected to the Presidency in Venezuela on December 6, 1998. He has won re-election 2 times since his first election, once in July of 2000 and again in 2006. He gained worldwide notoriety after calling President George W. Bush "the devil" and forming an alliance in response to the influence of the United States in Latin America.

Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of Dominica, assured the crowds of Chavez's greatness, saying, "We will be back to celebrate the 20th, 30th, 40th, and 50th anniversary of President Chavez in office." Hmm, no doubt Chavez has accomplished great things as a democratically elected President of Venezuela, but that sounds an awful lot like a dictatorship to us.

Tell us: What do you think about President Hugo Chavez?