Chavez loses a friend in Gadhafi
Former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi welcomes Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez upon his arrival in Tripoli on October 22, 2010.
October 20th, 2011
01:45 PM ET

Chavez loses a friend in Gadhafi

By , GlobalPost

Former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, who was confirmed killed on Thursday, didn't have a lot of friends.

He was never really welcomed in the circle of Arab leaders, who considered him more of an African than one of them. When Gadhafi turned south, he found few supporters among African leaders.

All that makes Gadhafi's friendship with Hugo Chavez even more particular. Venezuela's president has been a staunch ally of Gadhafi from the beginning.

Chavez has been battling cancer, flying to Cuba regularly for medical care. He returned on Thursday from Havana after another round of treatment, but didn't have anything immediately to say about his friend's death.

But as the rebellion in Libya began, Chavez was out front, condemning the uprising.

As other leaders slowly began to recognize the transitional government, Chavez made a point of declaring that he would not recognize the rebels. In March, Chavez offered to try to broker a truce between the two sides. The rebels turned him down.

When Tripoli fell, Chavez released yet another statement upbraiding the rebellion as "imperial madness." But there would be more.

As Gadhafi fled, Venezuela was floated as one place the ousted dictator might be welcomed. The only other country in Latin America who offered to welcome him was Nicaragua. President Daniel Ortega was also a friend, but not nearly so close as Chavez.

Gaddafi's dead. Let the civil war begin?

No one's really sure why Gadhafi and Chavez enjoyed such a close bond. They did have a lot in common, in particular their distate for the West, and their outrageous personalities. Both enjoyed a wealth of oil revenue. But there was something more as well.

In September, Chavez revealed on state television that Gadhafi had written to him, asking for moral support as his regime crumbled. Chavez said that he told him to fight on. "What we have to do is win or die," he said.

Gadhafi must have been glad to have such unwavering support, after struggling to win friends elsewhere for so long.

His movements for pan-Africanism, such as a United States of Africa (of which, of course, he would be the first president), were largely rejected. And awarding himself the title of King of Kings didn't win him a lot of fans, especially on a continent full of leaders who are autocrats themselves.

Instead, he bought their friendship. Gadhafi poured millions of petrodollars into sub-Saharan Africa, building mosques, hospitals and whatever else these impoverished countries needed. He named most of them after himself. He won the loyalty of poor citizens in other countries whose governments rarely did much of anything for them.

Sirte falls to anti-Gaddafi forces

Still, African leaders for the most part kept their distance, given his isolation from the rest of the world. When the rebellion began, most stayed pretty quiet, unwilling to take a firm stance in support of a guy they never had liked so much in the first place.

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Topics: Libya • Venezuela

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soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. TruVenezuela

    Sarah, this is a ridiculous article... you'd say anything for a buck, wouldn't you?

    October 20, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      Sarah didn't explain why Gaddafi and Chavez were soulmates. Both were followers of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's grassroots democracy and Gaddafi wrote his green book based on this principle. In practice his people had no say. Chavez was less autocratic but he sqanders the oil revenues of the country.

      October 20, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Reply
  2. Ted Peters

    It's not going to be easy for Hugo to sleep after he sees today's videos and pictures of his buddy. Maybe he should channel his Bolivarian destiny and pack his bags.

    October 20, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Reply
  3. D

    In my opinion Hugo is next. They will end up throwing him out to if the cancer doesn't kill him first.

    October 20, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Reply
    • Amelia

      And in my opinion we all have to pray for this to happen.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:27 am | Reply
  4. Onesmallvoice

    While Hugo Chavez lost a friend in Libya, the right-wing thugs in Washington gained control of that country bigtime!!! Yes, Qadaffy's murder marks another tragedy in the annals of human history. What's sickening here is through their own ignorance and right-wing mob mentality, the American people are now in a gigantic Huzzah over this disaster!

    October 20, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Reply
    • ScotishMick

      How quick do you forget history. What about the Lockerbee incident? I could spend months on educating you on the history of Gadhafi the tyrant, but you have the Internet at your disposal. Come to Scotland and we'll give you something to write about. The man was a monster, to his people and to the world. In my book he's considered a world criminal. Your writing sounds like something the Westboro Baptist Church would say.

      October 20, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Reply
  5. happyfeet

    Yes the whole world should be celebrating the death of this monster and I hope that Chavez and Ortega are next!!!

    October 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Reply
  6. Mary

    Great fighter? a revolutionary? a martyr? Really? Shame on Qaddafi, whose people are dying of hunger and he was hiding billions in private bank accounts in civilized countries. How many billions have you been hiding HUGO CHAVEZ for the “revolution”? Do you know that your cancer is called Karma?

    October 21, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Reply
  7. The R.OT.P.

    challenge The Creator, get rid from planet earth.....

    October 23, 2011 at 3:51 am | Reply
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    June 14, 2012 at 12:04 am | Reply

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