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Notes on Hugo’s Funeral

Hugh Chavez was laid to rest today in Caracas. Well, not exactly laid to rest, since news reports indicate that his body will preserved for indefinite public display like Lenin’s. But they did have a funeral. Who came? Something like a dozen heads of state, including Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, seen here entering the funeral:

Raul Castro was there. Fidel, happily, couldn’t make it. Two Democratic Congressmen, Gregory Meeks of New York and former Rep. William Delahunt of Massachusetts, officially represented the United States. Unofficially, Chavez fans Jesse Jackson and Sean Penn showed up to represent the American Left:

CNN gave Jackson space to write about Chavez and American-Venezuelan relations:

[T]hrough his fourth re-election in January — and while he was in Cuba fighting the cancer that would take his life — [Chavez's] focus was on forging a new socialist Venezuela.

This won many friends and advocates at home and abroad, especially among Venezuela’s and the hemisphere’s poorest populations.

That strikes me as unusually candid.

Other world powers demonized Chavez and sought to ostracize him, a la Cuba’s Fidel Castro, on a global scale.

But I believe peaceful, constructive negotiation should carry the day over isolation and demonization.

That’s why I visited Venezuela in 2005, just after the Rev. Pat Robertson called for the assassination of Chavez. He inflamed a chorus of extremist voices in seeking a way to “deal with Chavez.”

That type of hot rhetoric serves no productive purpose. …Let’s put an end to hot rhetoric, demonization and policies of isolation.

Hmm. “Hot rhetoric.” Hmm. “Demonization.” Hmm. Does Jackson mean literal demonization, like when Chavez called George Bush “the Devil” in a speech at the United Nations? No, of course not. Jackson was just speaking metaphorically!

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