At the end of last week, Queens Congressman Gregory Meeks announced he would officially represent the United States at former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s funeral, a country he’s dealt with in the past as a senior member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Politicker caught up with Mr. Meeks to ask how the Latin America trip went before a Monday morning press conference announcing new flood insurance legislation in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
“I thought that the trip was very good,” Mr. Meeks replied. “I was welcomed there by both members of the opposition as well as people close to President Chávez. As you know, I got to know President Chávez quite well. I think that though controversial–there were many things that I disagreed with–that he did have his heart on the poor. When you look at the thousands upon thousands of people that were in the streets mourning his death, Venezuela is clearly a country that is in mourning.”
The funeral for former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez will be held tomorrow and a New Yorker will be representing the United States at the event–Queens Congressman Gregory Meeks.
“I am honored to be a part of a delegation that will represent the United States at the Funeral of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Friday, March 8,” Mr. Meeks, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “My deepest sympathies go out to the family of President Chavez and the people of Venezuela. Venezuela is an important nation to the Western Hemisphere. I remain committed to building the relationship between our nations. As always, I stand in continued support of the Venezuelan people especially at this time of mourning.”
Earlier today, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez died after an extended bout with cancer. Needless to say, Mr. Chávez, a prominent opponent of United States foreign policy whose critics accused him of dictator-style thuggery at home, will not be fondly remembered in many corners of American politics.
But in the Bronx, at least, Mr. Chávez has a booster in the form of veteran Congressman José Serrano, who responded to the news by praising the Venezuelan leader’s anti-poverty efforts.
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez thinks the American government may be behind his battle with cancer. President Chavez made his remarks during a year-end address to troops yesterday, one day after Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner announced she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. In recent years, several leftist Latin American leaders have been diagnosed with cancer including Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Paraguay’s Fernando Lugo, and the former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. President Chavez was treated for a cancerous tumor in June.
“Would it be so strange that they’ve invented the technology to spread cancer and we won’t know about it for 50 years?” Chavez asked. “It is very hard to explain, even with the law of probabilities, what has been happening to some leaders in Latin America. It’s at the very least strange, very strange.”