Hugo Chavez Mourned by Sea of Venezuelans Dressed in Red


Chavez Mourners Turn Caracas Into Sea of Red

For the rest of his presidency Chavez relied heavily on the country's oil income to fund social programs. Over time exports fell from 3 million barrels per day in 2000 to 1.7 million barrels per day in 2011, according to The Associated Press.

Chavez reinvested relatively little of the country's oil income to locate new oil fields and replace depleted ones. Critics of Chavez accuse him of ruining the economy after he nationalized Venezuela's oil industry.

But Monaldi says that Chavez will always be connected with this bonanza.

"People did not like (all of Chavez') positions, but liked the money in their pocket," he said. "They supported Chavez because of that.

"For the future of Venezuela, it will be very hard for the population to understand that this was unsustainable. It had to do with this windfall, not the generosity of this charismatic guy," Monaldi said.

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The country's next president will have to decide how to continue with the system Chavez put in place and rode for 14 years.

"[Maduro] will continue to deplete the oil resource during the election campaign, because although the oil continues to flow, it is committed to paying creditors -- namely the China National Petroleum Corporation," Negroponte told "The oil resource is taken. He can use it to pay his followers, but he will quickly have to introduce austerity."

Monaldi pointed to Maduro's foreign policy stances, particularly his brokering of a turnaround in Venezuelan-Colombian relations as a hopeful light that the relationship between the U.S. and Venezuela could improve.

"He is surrounded by very radical people with ideas about how U.S.-Venezuelan relations should be," Monaldi said. "Maduro was able to forge a relationship with Colombia. Maduro was the guy leading the charge on the Venezuelan side. He was very open and easy to negotiate with. He might be pragmatic in the end."

In the U.S. there are many Venezuelans who hold out hope that Chavez's death can bring sweeping changes -- particularly in its relationship with the U.S.

Doral, Fla., has the largest number of Venezuelan immigrants in the U.S. Many of those immigrants celebrated the news of Chavez's passing. They chanted "he's gone, he's gone and soon Fidel [Castro] will be too."

Daniel Naim hopes for a better future for his homeland.

"I'm happy because this is a window of opportunity. Venezuela can change," Naim said.

Arleny Dimond, President of the Venezuelan Association of Utah, told ABC News that many were saddened by the news, but she says that emotion was forced by years of lies and deception.

"We had a presidential election and a lot of people in Venezuela voted for Chavez. A lot of people still support Chavez," she said. "I didn't want him to die, but unfortunately I knew that was the only way he would get out of there. But ... I want a change. I wanted a change for the country."

ABC News' Matt Gutman, ABC News Radio and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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