Venezuelans living in Baton Rouge react to Chavez's death

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The death of Venezuela president Hugo Chavez is having a profound impact on people from there who call Baton Rouge home. They are not celebrating his death, but hoping it marks the end of a sad time in their country's history.

The streets of Caracas are lined with Venezuelans this week - some crying, others waiting to see President Hugo Chavez as he lies in state. On Tuesday, the president's two-year battle with cancer ended.

"You can see in the transmissions that I've been seeing in the Venezuelan news centers that a lot of people are suffering because of this loss. You have to be respectful because of that," said Gabriela Bastidas, an LSU student from Venezuela.

Some Venezuelans who live in Baton Rouge hope his death marks the end of something else as well.

"Criminal things, corruption, the infrastructure was going down. That's not the Venezuela I used to remember," said Gustavo Itriago, who moved to Louisiana from Venezuela in 2001.

Despite a huge turnout of the opposition at voting locations across the world, including New Orleans, Chavez was re-elected in October. Bastidas says she looks forward to the chance for a new regime to come in and make things better in her home country.

"I wish that someday I could go back and have a family and show them where I grew up," said Bastidas.

The Venezuelan constitution says 30 days after a president dies, an election should be held to replace them. Southern baseball assistant coach Fernando Puebla says Chavez divided the country during his 14-year presidency.  Now, he says, it's up to his fellow Venezuelan citizens to fix that problem.

"That's not what a country should be. Everybody as Venezuelans need to be united towards one cause which is to make the country a better place," said Puebla.

Copyright 2013 WAFB. All rights reserved.