Venezuelans pledge full loyalty to Chavez
CARACAS - Agence France-Presse
Supporters of Chavez wave images of him and the Venezuelan independence hero Simon Bolivar during a symbolic inauguration in Caracas. AP photoThousands of Venezuelans fervently swore “absolute loyalty” to Hugo Chavez on Jan. 10 in a giant rally for the cancer-stricken president on what was to have been his inauguration.
Vice President Nicolas Maduro led the crowd in the symbolic oath, which was repeated by roaring supporters of Chavez, who packed central Caracas in a massive show of support. “Comandante, get better, because this people have sworn and are going to show absolute loyalty. So we have sworn,” he said.
The crowd delivered a booming rendition of the national anthem and roared with approval for the tributes from leftist leaders like Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Uruguay’s Jose Mujica and ousted Paraguayan leader Fernando Lugo. “There is a man who is fighting for his life,” said Mujica. “But if tomorrow, he is no longer, unity, peace and work.” It was the day’s most direct reference to the possibility that Chavez, who has been in a Cuban hospital for cancer treatment, may die.