Hugo Chavez, whose death at 58 was announced on Wednesday, survived a coup and several assassination attempts.

However, he could not survive his greatest battle – the one with cancer.

Chavez polarised opinions inside his nation, and outside.

To the well-heeled elite of Venezuela he was Hitler, Stalin, Mao and then worse – a man whose incompetence took this oil-rich Latin American country to financial crisis, who also turned a blind eye to the escalating violence that plagues the barrios.

Take a look outside, any rich Venezuelan would tell anyone that would listen from their stunning palaces, and all you see is chaos.

And to the Americans, who Chavez called the ‘Empire’, he was a headache.

Here was a man who sat on a strategically important part of the US economy and it was a no secret how they plotted to have him overthrown or assassinated.

But Chavez just wouldn’t go – he survived a coup because the people of the barrios refused to accept the newly installed President.

And it is the people of the barrios who are in mourning today.

What the rich will never understood is how the poor feel as they live in a land of plenty.

Chavez never took any of their wealth, the elite continued to live in fabulous wealth, however he made the poor –  including those he supplied free gas to in America – feel like they counted, that their voice was not being ignored.

And that is why there are many mourners and many who will file past his embalmed body when it is laid in state.

And not because as his cheering detractors believe, he was a power-mad, fascist dictator who died like Stalin.

Hugo Chavez