President of the Republic of South Africa
Mr. President: My dear friend.
The people of Simón Bolívar and Hugo Chávez are deeply saddened by the death of the great Nelson Mandela.
Our hearts go out to the noble and heroic South African people: we join our Mother Africa and the world in this time of mourning and sadness.
We have declared a three-day national mourning period since a great man among the great has gone: he is one of the most exceptional men in contemporary history.
Madiba was and will continue being a living example of all human virtues; he was and will continue being a paradigm illuminating the correct exercise of politics. He used to personify the tireless fight for justice and equality, the daily struggle for peace, the historical battle against racism.
How can we not recall the words he uttered at the end of apartheid: Long live freedom! The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement. In reality, without Madiba, without the spiritual and political force of his leadership, such a glorious achievement would have been less than unattainable.
When imprisoned during so many years in a prison-like society, his unyielding spirit could never be locked up. Those who condemned him to darkness could not prevent him from shining and extending from Africa to the rest of the world. Along with Patricio Lumumba, Samora Machel, Amílcar Cabral, Agostinho Neto, Thomas Sankara among so many other leaders, Madiba incarnated and will continue incarnating the historical force of our released and redeemed Mother Africa.
If his light could not be turned off and his wings could not be cut for 27 years, how could death take him away? The human beings like Nelson Mandela are live and sacred flame, eternal fire capable of illuminating everything with his beloved presence.
The following words uttered by the Apostle José Martí reflect fully the lifetime of Nelson Mandela to the extent that they seem to be written for him: When there are many men lacking decency, there are always others who have in themselves the decency of many. They are the ones who rebel with terrible force against the robbers of their people’s freedom – hence robbers of their decency. Such men are the embodiment of thousands, of a whole people, of human dignity. In reality, Mandela embodies, far beyond physical life, his people and all their fights, the dignity of humanity in all its truth and beauty.
The very day of the death of the Father of Africa marked nine months of the death of our Eternal Commander Hugo Chávez. How can we not identify with the people of South Africa? How can their affliction not be ours? The death of our Commander has been and is a pain shared by all Venezuelan people, but this mourning has been becoming a commitment with life and an irreversible decision of being victorious. I know the sons and daughters of Madiba will do the same.
With all the force of our sadness, and even with the greater force of hope: Long live Nelson Mandela! Long live the Father Madiba! The world is not the same after your death. As you told us yourself: A new world will be won not by those who stand at a distance with their arms folded, but by those who are in the arena, whose garments are torn by storms and whose bodies are maimed in the course of the contest.
Madiba will stay, he will never go away: he looks at us and looks around with us, transcending time with the strength if his rightness. Freedom bears his name, solidarity has the colour of his skin and the future speaks with his voice.
Today, when his farewell dismantles the sky, we can only raise and wave his flags like birds flying away, and this way we can say thank you for his fruitful existence, dedication, selflessness, humility and wisdom. His imperishable legacy is reflected in the free South Africa: the South African nation of all. However, Mandela also represents the endless fight for equality in the world, a world that encompasses many worlds.
We hope that he will fly freely and high in order for him, there in infinity, to meet Bolívar and Chávez, Lumumba and Sankara, and all the men and women, like him, that lived to teach us to improve the human condition. Madiba is the sun of the history that we will make and that we are making.
Mr. President, at this difficult and painful time for the South African people, I would like to reiterate that we stand wholeheartedly behind all of you. I send you an affectionate and supportive hug.
Long live the people of Nelson Mandela!
Honour and glory to Nelson Mandela!!!
Until victory forever!!!
We will live and win!!!
Nicolás Maduro Moros is President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela