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Looking Back: Ellis' Solidarity With Hugo Chavez | News

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Looking Back: Ellis' Solidarity With Hugo Chavez
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With the announcement of the death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, we look back on the impact Chavez had on Macon's own leader at the time, Mayor C. Jack Ellis.

In 2007, Ellis spoke kindly about Hugo Chavez.

He said, "Hugo Chavez has been a great humanitarian when it comes to trying to alleviate poverty."

The former Macon mayor went so far as issue a declaration of solidarity with Chavez.

"I'm willing to stand with anyone who's willing to stand for the eradication of poverty, elimination of diseases, and to have an assault on ignorance," said Ellis on Chavez's work in Venezuela and when Chavez extended aid to Americans after he gave heating oil to poor people in the Bronx in New York City.

Council members spoke out against Ellis' declaration, in particular Rick Hutto, saying that Ellis can voice his opinions of Chavez but not on behalf of Macon.

However, former mayor Ellis saw a different side of Chavez. And many other world leaders praised him. Former President Jimmy Carter told the Associated Press Chavez "will be remembered for his bold assertion of autonomy and independence for Latin American governments."

But 6 years ago when Ellis showed his support of the humanitarian Hugo Chavez, people around Macon did view the Venezuelan leader positively. 13WMAZ spoke with a woman from Venezuela at an anti-Ellis rally, Eleana Courson.

She said, "You don't support terrorists. You don't support people who try to take freedom away from people when you live all of your life in democracy and freedom."

Eleana's comment mirrored sentiments that Chavez, as Girish Gupta for USA TODAY writes, stifled attempts for Venezuela to modernize and democratize. But supporters of Chavez heralded his revolution for the impoverished of Venezuela, the humanitarian efforts as Mayor Ellis called them.

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