Hugo Chavez's death is a grievous blow to Venezuela's working people, but his importance extends beyond his native country's borders.
His choice of Simon Bolivar for political guide points to an understanding that liberation for one Latin American country requires a continent-wide assertion of independence from the historically malevolent influence of US imperialism.
The Venezuela president's constant references to imperialism are incontrovertible and indeed unexceptionable now, even though only recently, after the demise of the Soviet Union, that term had all but passed into disuse.
Chavez's role in promoting understanding of how imperialism undermines democracy in nominally independent states contributed to the spread of progressive ideas and the election of a new generation of socialist-leaning leaders throughout the region.
The power of the media - from the global heavyweight chains to local mouthpieces of Venezuela's oligarchy - were ranged against the Bolivarian revolution that he inspired.
Its coverage ranged from demonisation to mockery, but Chavez's decision to talk directly to the workers, the poor and dispossessed via his Alo Presidente TV programme enabled him to get his message over.
However, it was awareness of the revolutionary government's achievements that ensured success in all bar one of the electoral campaigns that Chavez and his United Socialist Party (PSUV) contested.
Political life in the region was for decades divided for the most part into Tweedledee and Tweedledum parties that made extravagant pre-polling promises to be ignored after elections.
The poor remained poor, the local oligarchy enriched itself and Latin American ruling politicians pledged devotion to the White House.
Challenges to these rules met with CIA-inspired military coups, direct US intervention or half-century-long blockades, as Cuba has experienced.
President Chavez refused to kow-tow to Washington, for which crime he was deposed in a briefly successful coup instigated by US president George W Bush before an angry popular upsurge encouraged patriotic armed forces to isolate the plotters and reinstate the revolutionary leader.
The next ploy for the right was to unleash a "strike" by senior managers and technicians at the publicly owned PDVSA oil company to deprive the government of finance.
It was defeated, opening the way for revolutionary change in Venezuela's trade union movement and putting PDVSA at the heart of financing the Bolivarian "missions" that deliver essential services to the poor and needy.
Chavez and the movement around him have been able to weather each attack against them and to use it as a springboard to mobilise further revolutionary change.
The defeat of the 2002 coup against the president facilitated the retirement of pro-imperialist military officers just as economic sabotage by banks and transnational oil companies has provided justification for extending public ownership.
Chavez's opponents portray such acts as indicative of dictatorial tendencies although his commitment to democracy was total, as in his acceptance without question of a negative popular response to a referendum on presidential term limits.
Venezuela's moneyed elite has obsessed about the president's health, holding demonstrations to demand "the truth" and pushing for another election, despite being comprehensively trounced in October.
Chavez's comrade in arms Nicolas Maduro will sport the Bolivarian colours in the contest to replace him and continue in his footsteps.
The president's life has been cruelly cut short, which is a tragedy for his family, for Venezuela and us all.
The revolutionary is dead, but the revolution is alive and kicking, as Maduro's election will indicate next month.
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