‘Loyalty’ demo held for Hugo Chavez

Supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez hold a demonstration outside the presidential palace in Caracas on January 10, 2013.

Thousands of people have held a demonstration in the Venezuelan capital to express ‘absolute loyalty’ to President Hugo Chavez.

The demonstration was staged outside the presidential palace in Caracas on Thursday, when Chavez was due to be inaugurated for a fourth term.

“Comandante, get better, because this people has sworn and is going to show absolute loyalty. So we have sworn. Long live Chavez!” said Vice President Nicolas Maduro, leading the people who packed the streets outside the palace.

The crowd took a collective oath for the 58-year-old president at the end of the speech by Maduro, who warned that the opposition wants to “stain this special moment in this life of our people.”

“I love the president,” said Pedro Brito, a 60-year-old man participating in the demonstration. “He has done a lot for poor people, the ones who had no place to sleep or food to eat. He has shown us how to love the country.”

Meanwhile, the presidents of several South American countries, including Uruguay, Bolivia and Nicaragua, were also present at the alternative inauguration ceremony.

“There is a man who is fighting for his life, who is in your hearts,” said Uruguay’s President Jose Mujica.

On January 9, the Venezuelan Supreme Court said Chavez could legally delay the inauguration, initially scheduled for Thursday. “The oath-taking of the re-elected president can be carried out at a time after January 10 before the Supreme Court if it is not done on the said day before the National Assembly,” the court ruling said.

Chavez, who first came to power in 1999, was re-elected to a new six-year term in October 2012. However, a month before the planned inauguration he underwent a fourth round of cancer surgery in Cuba’s capital Havana.