Within hours of the death of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez last week, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued what is arguably the most insensitive statement ever released by one democratically-elected leader about the death of another. The core of the statement consisted of the following proverbial kick-in-the-teeth to the still-warm corpse of the Venezuelan president: “At this key juncture, I hope the people of Venezuela can now build for themselves a better, brighter future based on the principles of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights.” In short, Harper arrogantly bid good riddance to Chávez, not on behalf of Canada, but on behalf of the Venezuelan people. The prime minister’s comments stood in stark contrast to the ones he made when Nigeria’s President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua died in 2010, illustrating how Harper’s position is motivated more by ideology than any concern for democracy, freedom and human rights.
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By Garry Leech
“A gripping tale of savagery and terror, but also of tenderness, compassion, and renewal.” —Noam Chomsky