[ Ed. note – One of the most memorable speeches ever delivered at the UN by any head of state was that given in 2006 by Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. The speech was given before the General Assembly on September 20–just one day after George W. Bush had spoken in the same chamber before the same body.
“The devil came here yesterday, and it smells of sulfur still today,” Chavez said. The Bolivarian president made the sign of the cross, folded his hands, and looked briefly upward as if praying, before resuming: “Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world.”
The ownership of the world hasn’t changed much in eleven years. On Tuesday of last week, Donald Trump gave a speech before the General Assembly talking in much the same manner as his predecessor, only more so. Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea, and he called Iran a “corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy.”
And as for Venezuela, the rhetoric was equally poisonous. The country is run by a “corrupt regime,” Trump asserted, one that has “destroyed a prosperous nation,” and of course he made it clear that America reserves to itself the divine right of kings in determining Venezuela’s future: “The situation is completely unacceptable, and we cannot stand by and watch,” he said.
Today, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza gave a response. And in doing so, he invoked those immortal words of Chavez spoken 11 years ago. ]
The Venezuelan official condemned repeated threats made against his country by the U.S. government.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza recalled the words of former President Hugo Chavez, saying that the podium still “stinks of sulfur” as he opened his speech before member nations at the 72nd U.N. General Assembly in New York City, condemning repeated threats made by U.S. President Donald Trump against his sovereign, free nation.
Arreaza slammed Trump’s imposing statements made at the same podium days earlier, saying that his demeanor was reminiscent of a world emperor wielding “dictatorial powers” and making “unilateral threats” against the guiding principles of the U.N. Charter.
Whereas Trump lashed out at Venezuela, calling the administration of President Nicolas Maduro a “socialist dictatorship” that destroyed a once wealthy country, Arreaza reminded the U.S. president — a man who only received enough popular votes to claim second place in last year’s U.S. presidential campaign — that Venezuela has held 22 elections in the past 18 years. The feat, he noted, demonstrates the good faith of Venezuelan democracy.
Arreaza said that four months of political violence had been effectively stopped by the July 30 vote to the National Constituent Assembly and praised the opposition for their decision to participate in upcoming regional elections.
In regards to U.S. imposed sanctions on his nation, Arreaza noted that the measures aim to provoke undemocratic change in the Bolivarian government, emphasizing that the United States had absolutely no moral ground to stand on in respect to police and human rights abuses detailing abuses against Indigenous, African-American and immigrant populations in the United States.
He sent “condolences to the people suffering from the hurricanes and natural disasters in the region” and reiterated that the people of Venezuela will continue to do everything they can to help the region, noting that President Maduro has sent aid to several Caribbean nations, including Cuba, Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda and earthquake-stricken Mexico.
The foreign minister, speaking against climate change said, “Let’s not change the climate, let’s change the system.”
The Deputy Foreign Minister of Nicaragua Maria Rubiales de Chamorro, in a firm statement before the U.N. body said, “Nobody wants military intervention by the United States … Nobody is asking for U.S. to intervene in Latin America or the Caribbean.”
Opening the last day of the General Assembly debate, Uruguay’s Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa reiterated Latin American opposition to intervention in the region without naming any country by name. “Intervention has only left a trail of violence in our region,” adding a condemnation of the U.S. blockade against Cuba.
Yesterday, President Donald Trump announced that Venezuela will be added to the list of countries banned from traveling to the United States. The new decree is aimed at “certain Venezuelan government officials and their immediate family members,” according to the White House press office.