UN pays tribute to late Venezuelan presidentListen /
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and General Assembly President Vuk Jeremić joined delegates from around the world this week in hailing the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez Frías for his strong leadership, commitment to the Millennium Development Goals and advocacy on behalf of the world's poorest.
"President Chávez was one of those leaders who made a difference in his country, the region and the world," Mr. Ban said during a General Assembly meeting to honour the late President, who died of cancer on 5 March at the age of 58. The Assembly also observed a minute of silence.
Secretary-General Ban lauded Mr. Chávez for giving a voice to the world's most vulnerable people, providing crucial aid to Haiti after its devastating 2010 earthquake, contributing to peace talks in Colombia between that country's Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces, and providing a decisive impetus for regional integration in Latin America.
General Assembly President Vuc Jeremić praised Mr. Chávez's commitment to social justice and improving the lives of Venezuelans. Under his leadership, Venezuela had made great strides in fulfilling the Millennium Goals and its poverty rate had dropped from over 70 per cent at the end of the twentieth century to around 20 per cent today.
The representative of Saint Lucia, Ambassador Menisa Rambally, speaking on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean States, described Mr. Chávez as a man of "enormous character and vision". His bold and imaginative measures had met the formidable challenges of development which were caused by high energy costs. She said Mr. Chávez believed his country's resources were to be shared to promote his people's collective development and that of the region as a whole. One of his major successes was the widening of public participation in the socioeconomic and democratic space.
Cuba's representative, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, hailed Mr. Chávez's untiring dedication to eradicating poverty and inequality and his tireless work to achieve a united, safe and more equal Latin America and Caribbean region. The late leader would be remembered as an honest, bold and clear-sighted revolutionary who "reincarnated Bolivar to complete his work". Hugo Chávez died undefeated; he acted in the face of imperialism and always defended the world's most marginalized. Cuba would remain eternally loyal to Mr. Chávez's vision and carry on to his ideals in solidarity.
This is Donn Bobb reporting.