Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter mourned the death Tuesday of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, hailing his commitment to improving the lives of Venezuelans, and praising him for communicating “hope and empowerment” and for “his bold assertion of autonomy and independence for Latin American governments.”
According to a statement posted at the Carter Center website, Mr. Carter and his wife Rosalynn “came to know a man who expressed a vision to bring profound changes to his country to benefit especially those people who had felt neglected and marginalized.”
The 288-word statement included the 13-word caveat, “we have not agreed with all of the methods followed by his government” but says immediately afterward that “we have never doubted Hugo Chávez’s commitment to improving the lives of millions of his fellow countrymen.”
The statement went on to cite Mr. Chavez’s claimed accomplishments, including reductions in poverty and “new forms of integration” in Latin American international politics, where Mr. Chavez supported Cuba’s Castro brothers in leading an anti-American bloc of states.
After an even-briefer caveat about “we recognize the divisions created in the drive towards change,” Mr. Carter said Venezuelans should “recall his positive legacies.”
Mr. Carter has a history of praising anti-American regimes upon a leader’s death. According to a report by the Korean Central News Agency, which the Carter Center did not deny or rebut, Mr. Carter sent North Korea a message of condolence over the death of Kim Jong-il and wished “every success” to Kim Jong-un in his future role as North Korean dictator.