How did politicians in Canada and around the world react to the death of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez? Let’s just say there were mixed emotions. Below is a list compiled of statements, tweets, and reported televised interviews about the late controversial President.
In a statement by the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper said: “At this key juncture, I hope the people of Venezuela can now build for themselves a better, brighter future based on the principles of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights.”
Jean Chrétien, the former Prime Minister, said in a televised interview on CBC’s Power and Politics:
“He was a great baseball fan and player and he always told me that if I were to visit him in Venezuela we would go to a baseball field and he would throw balls to me for me to hit them, you know, and we never had the occasion to do that.”
“On a personal basis, I had really good relations with him. He was not a great admirer of the Americans and he was not shy to discuss that with anybody, including me.”
Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae expressed his hope for democracy in Venezuela via Twitter, writing:
“The death of Hugo Chavez marks turning in Venezuelan politics – we send our condolences, and hopes for democratic future for a great people.”
NDP member of Parliament Paul Dewar also went to Twitter to say the following:
“Condolences to President Chavez’s family and the people of Venezuela. We reaffirm the enduring bonds between our two countries.”
South of the border, American politicians had polarizing views on the passing of the Venezuelan leader. Demorcratic Congressman Jose E. Serrano had positive memories of Chavez, and expressed this on his Twitter account:
“Hugo Chavez was a leader that understood the needs of the poor. He was committed to empowering the powerless. R.I.P. Mr. President.”
Republican Congressman Ed Royce, on the other hand, wasn’t shy about his dislike for the late-Venezuelan leader:
“Hugo Chavez was a tyrant who forced the people of Venezuela to live in fear. His death dents the alliance of anti-U.S. leftist leaders in South America. Good riddance to this dictator,” Royce said in a statement.
In a longer statement from Jimmy Carter, the former President extended his condolences while also acknowledging the division Chavez created during his 14 years as the controversial leader of Venezuela.
“Although we have not agreed with all of the methods followed by his government, we have never doubted Hugo Chávez’s commitment to improving the lives of millions of his fellow countrymen.”
President Barack Obama had a more neutral statement, saying:
“At this challenging time of President Hugo Chavez’s passing, the United States reaffirms its support for the Venezuelan people and its interest in developing a constructive relationship with the Venezuelan government. As Venezuela begins a new chapter in its history, the United States remains committed to policies that promote democratic principles, the rule of law, and respect for human rights.”
In Mexico, President Enrique Peña Nieto said the following on Twitter:
“So sorry to hear of President Hugo Chavez’s passing. My deepest condolences to his family and the Venezuelan people.”
And former Mexican President Felipe Calderón also tweeted, writing:
“My condolences to Hugo Chavez’s family and followers, and to all Venezuelans. May Venezuela define its path with democracy.”
In Argentina, Vice-President Amado Boudou tweeted:
“A great sorrow for the Americas. See you soon, commander: you and Nestor [Kichner] will lead the people to victory.”
Here’s what some other politicians had to say:
“The rule of Hugo Chavez is over,” wrote U.S. Senator Bill Nelson on his Twitter feed.
Congressman Tom Cotton‘s statement said:
“Sic semper tyrannis. [Latin for "Thus always to tyrants."]
“After the welcome news of Hugo Chavez’s death, I hope that the oppressed people of Venezuela will be able to live in freedom, not under miserable tyranny.”
U.S. Senator Bob Corker, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the following:
“Following the death of Hugo Chavez, it is my hope that all Venezuelans will have the opportunity to fully exercise their political rights, including freedom of expression and assembly, in fully free and fair constitutionally-mandated elections and build a more prosperous future for their country.”
Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said in her statement:
“For over a decade Chavez had used corruption, intimidation, manipulation, and brutal tactics to rule over the Venezuelan people. Chavez misruled Venezuela with an iron grip on the government, economy, and the courts as he routinely bullied the media and the opposition to deny the people of Venezuela their basic freedoms. Today, his death marks the end of this tyrannical rule but the road to democracy for the Venezuelan people is still very much uncertain.”
The United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary William Hague released a statement saying:
“I was saddened to learn of the death of President Hugo Chavez today. As President of Venezuela for 14 years he has left a lasting impression on the country and more widely. I would like to offer my condolences to his family and to the Venezuelan people at this time.”
And according to Reuters, leaders throughout America said the following:
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera: “We undoubtedly had our differences, but I was always able to appreciate the strength, the engagement with which Chavez fought for his ideas.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos: “The obsession that united us and that was the base of our relationship was peace in Colombia and the region. If we’ve advanced in a solid peace process … it’s also thanks to the dedication and commitment without limits of President Chavez and the Venezuelan government.”
Mauricio Funes, President of El Salvador: “The death of someone who has been one of the strongest and most popular Latin American leaders will, without doubt, produce a vacuum in politics, but most of all, in the heart of all Venezuelan men and women.”
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff: “On many occasions, the Brazilian government did not fully agree with President Hugo Chavez but today, as always, we recognize in him a great leader, an irreparable loss and, above all, a friend of Brazil.”
Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva: “I’m confident that his example of love of the fatherland and his dedication to the cause of the poor will continue to illuminate the future of Venezuela.”