Papers reflect on Hugo Chavez's life


"Firebrand", "egotistical", "autocratic" and "a flamboyant emblem of Anti-Americanism" are just some of the labels which the papers attach to Hugo Chavez as they reflect on the life of one of Latin America's most colourful leaders.

In its obituary, the Times recounts how he went from "little more than a minor irritant" on the fringes of Venezuelan politics to becoming a charismatic figure who inspired almost religious devotion among his millions of followers.

Recalling his trips to Iraq and Iran and his support for Colonel Gaddafi of Libya, the paper says Hugo Chavez saw himself as a Third World leader of international stature.

The Independent believes one of the world's leading oil nations will now face a "pitched political struggle".

The Daily Telegraph believes there will be little change in tone from the man whom Chavez chose to replace him. It says as the president lay dying, his deputy - Nicolas Maduro - moved swiftly to copy the anti-American rhetoric of the socialist leader.

The Guardian says his death has plunged Venezuela into uncertainty over the future of his socialist revolution. But first, it says, his funeral, which will is likely to be "a vast, clamorous affair to rival Evita's".

'Deserted Rats'

The Daily Telegraph leads with a report that one of the Army's most celebrated units, the Desert Rats, are to be left without any tanks because of the shake-up of the armed forces.

According to the paper, the Seventh Armoured Brigade will become part of a new infantry unit equipped with only wheeled reconnaissance vehicles.

It charts the proud history of those who fought under the emblem of the Desert Rats in North Africa during WWII and in both Gulf Wars. An army spokesman tells the paper the changes are to ensure units can face more modern threats.

The Daily Mirror is unimpressed. "The Deserted Rats" is its headline.

Cold case review

The Times praises the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, for drawing up plans to bring more sex offenders to justice. It says they will lead to a gigantic cold case review which should leave abusers feeling very nervous.

The paper believes Mr Starmer has kept his promise to take action and urges other officials to do the same.

There are again calls in many of the papers for the chief executive of the NHS, Sir David Nicholson, to resign after he gave evidence to MPs about the Stafford Hospital scandal, which contributed to the needless deaths of hundreds of patients. The Daily Mail brands him "The man with no answers".

The Daily Telegraph says power comes with accountability and he must go. But the Guardian argues that Mr Nicholson is entitled to point out that the problems in Stafford were not found in dozens of other hospitals under his watch and that in the end it is ministers who must carry the can.

A slip of the tongue by the Duchess of Cambridge has caused a bit of a stir and makes many of the front pages. While on a visit to Grimsby in Lincolnshire, the Duchess - who is due to give birth in July - was given a teddy bear by a well-wisher.

Apparently, in return she said, "Thank you, I will take that for my d...", before she broke off and added hastily, "for my baby". "is that D for daughter?" asks the Daily Mail.

The Sun calls it "the mother of all hints" but the Daily Mirror is bolder. "It's a girl", it proclaims.

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