Compilation of reactions from Florida’s elected officials and politicians to news of Hugo Chavez’ death

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died Tuesday afternoon after more than a decade in office and a lengthy fight with cancer. The death of Chavez, who has been virulently anti-American, was greeted with hope for the future from Florida’s elected officials and politicians.

Senator Bill Nelson:

“The rule of Hugo Chavez is over. Hopefully there will be a peaceful transition of power in Venezuela with real, meaningful democratic reforms.”

Senator Marco Rubio:

“The Venezuelan people now have an opportunity to turn the page on one of the darkest periods in its history and embark on a new, albeit difficult, path to restore the rule of law, democratic principles, security and free enterprise system in a nation that deserves so much better than the socialist disaster of the past 14 years. It is my sincere hope that Venezuela’s leaders will seek to rebuild our once strong friendship based on shared democratic and free enterprise principles.

“I urge the Administration and the community of democracies in the western hemisphere to keep a watchful eye on the security situation in Venezuela in the coming weeks and months. We must help encourage a leadership transition in accordance with Venezuela’s constitution and avoid a vacuum
that is filled by power-hungry and violent forces seeking to maintain the status quo. We should instead support Venezuela’s democrats committed to writing new, more hopeful chapters in their country’s long and proud history.”

Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart:

“For more than a decade, the Venezuelan people have suffered under the authoritarian rule of Hugo Chavez. He cracked down on freedom of the press and arrested judges and opposition leaders who didn’t agree with him. Additionally, he used petro dollars stolen from the Venezuelan people to extend his influence and fund the sinister agendas of cruel dictators like Castro, Ahmadinejad, and Assad. Now, there is hope for the restoration of freedom in Venezuela with truly free and fair elections, renewal of a civil society, and the protection of an independent press. I share the hopes of South Florida’s patriotic Venezuelan community that today will mark a new era and the start of a brighter future for their beloved country.”

Congressman Joe Garcia:

“Today represents an opportunity for Venezuela to chart a new path, one that includes all voices, civil society and embraces democracy. If a new Venezuelan government embraces these principles then I am confident that its future will be a bright one.”

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen:

“The Venezuela people now have an opportunity to emerge from this oppressive regime and regain their democracy and human rights.  However, this can only be done through a true democratic process with free, fair, and transparent elections.  I am hopeful that democracy will rise from the ashes of the Chavez regime and again become a part of a new Venezuela.  Now it is up to the Venezuelan people to redefine and rebuild their nation as a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous state free of the clutches of Chavez and his disastrous social and economic policies.”

Former Congressman Connie Mack:

“Today, we do not mourn the death of Hugo Chavez, but instead, we celebrate the possibility that Venezuela can be born anew as a free, secure and prosperous democracy and that Latin America can embark on a new and peaceful path in the world.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.