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.
I first encountered Hugo Chavez in Caracas, starring in his own television show, Hello, Mr. President. I couldn't take my eyes of the program, which began at 11 a.m. and ended after 7 p.m.
It was an endurance test for even the most die-hard sycophants and terrific entertainment for a first-time viewer. While the camera would pan droopy-eyed Cabinet members seated in the front row, El Presidente showed no signs of flagging.
At the seven-hour mark, he chirped, "Bueno!" and declared, "It's early! Let's keep talking."
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.
A coffin holding the body of Hugo Chávez moved through the streets of Caracas, today.
The 58-year-old leader died yesterday after a battle with cancer. The flag-draped casket was moved from the military hospital where Chávez died to a military academy, where he will lie in state. The whole way there, his casket was flanked by thousands of adoring supporters dressed in red and waving the tri-colored Venezuelan flag.