Venezuela's late president, Hugo Chavez, was a tremendous supporter of Latin American countries, especially those sympathetic to his socialist ideals.
The country's vast oil reserves are a key source of economic aid, but the Chavez didn't just help out his ideological peers like Cuba and Nicaragua. He was also a great benefactor to key U.S. allies in the Caribbean — many of whom now worry whether their vital oil lifeline is about to be shut off.
Thousands of Venezuelans have been filling the streets this week, listening to music and lining up to see the coffin of their leader, Hugo Chavez, who died on Tuesday. Leaders from around the world have also come to the capital city, Caracas, for a funeral which formally takes place today. And in keeping with his often larger-than-life persona, the Venezuelan government plans to embalm Chavez and keep his body on display under glass, in perpetuity. NPR's Juan Forero is in Caracas, following events there. Hi, Juan.
We turn now to the last U.S. ambassador stationed in Venezuela. Patrick Duddy represented the U.S. first under the Bush administration then later under the Obama administration. He was once expelled from Caracas. Ambassador Duddy is now a visiting senior lecturer at Duke University's Center for International Studies. When we spoke today, I asked him what it was like for him to be an ambassador to Venezuela under Chavez.
The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is an especially tough blow for Cuba, whose feeble state-run economy has been propped up for more than a decade with Venezuelan oil shipments and other subsidies.
The Castro government has declared three days of mourning, calling Chavez "a son" of Cuba, but privately Cubans are quietly fretting about the potential loss of billions in trade and the threat of a new economic crisis.