Foreign Policy Blogs

Chavez Speaks of Hope Instead of Sulfur at UN, Though Distrust Remains

Yesterday Hugo Chávez, President of Venezuela, gave a more tempered speech to the United Nations General Assembly. He said the smell of sulfur (his reference to George W. Bush in 2006) had dissipated, and that instead he sensed new hope with President Barack Obama in office. Further description of the speech by the Associated Press can be found here.

What can one make of the change in tone by Chávez? Although he called for an end to what he sees as US imperialism in the region, perhaps his tone softened somewhat after the long-winded diatribe offered up by Gadhafi of Libya the previous day. Perhaps he truly sees the possibility of improved relations with Obama, whereas it was only too easy to criticize Bush? It may be that Chávez recognizes an opportunity to actually dialogue with the current US President, and therefore, while remaining critical, wants to avoid any statements that completely disrupt relations.

Still, the Venezuelan President reserved some harsh words for the United States, asking “what would it be like in Latin America today if the Americans had not imposed their model with firepower and blood?” Resentment remains strong even though many years have passed since 1) US military intervention and support of dictators in Latin America and 2) the imposition of the Washington Consensus, a series of economic policies intended to improve the economies of lesser-developed nations. One wonders when, if at all, the US image can be completely restored in the region. International politics are no different than personal relations in this way – it appears much easier to tarnish than to strengthen one’s reputation.



David D. Sussman

David D. Sussman is currently a PhD Candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University), in Boston, Massachusetts. Serving as a fellow at the Feinstein International Center, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study the lives of Colombian refugees and economic migrants in Caracas, Venezuela. David has worked on a variety of migrant issues that include the health of displaced persons, domestic resettlement of refugees, and structured labor-migration programs. He holds a Masters in International Relations from the Fletcher School, where he studied the integration of Somali and Salvadoran immigrants. David has a B.A. from Dartmouth College and is fluent in Spanish. He has lived in Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Venezuela, and also traveled throughout Latin America. In his free time David enjoys reading up on international news, playing soccer, cooking arepas, and dancing salsa casino. Areas of Focus: Latin America; Migration; Venezuela.