The White House issued a carefully worded statement this evening in response to the death of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez.
“At this challenging time of President Hugo Chavez’s passing, the United States reaffirms its support for the Venezuelan people and its interest in developing a constructive relationship with the Venezuelan government,” said the brief message from the office of press secretary Jay Carney. “As Venezuela begins a new chapter in its history, the United States remains committed to policies that promote democratic principles, the rule of law, and respect for human rights.”
Longtime congressional opponents of Chavez focused on the man as much as vague platitudes about the future.
“Chavez not only led Venezuela into a spiraling economic downturn, but also deepened ties with fellow despots throughout the world that led to fear and instability in the Western Hemisphere,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.). “His ever growing cooperation with fellow state sponsors of terrorism, Iran, Syria, and Cuba, threatened U.S. interests in the region and around the globe. By providing aid and financial assistance to these rogue regimes, Chavez gave many human rights violators an economic lifeline in the form of oil subsidies to continue their tyrannical rule over their people.”
“Now it is up to the Venezuelan people to redefine and rebuild their nation as a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous state free of the clutches of Chavez and his disastrous social and economic policies.”
“Hugo Chavez was a tyrant who forced the people of Venezuela to live in fear. His death dents the alliance of anti-U.S. leftist leaders in South America. Good riddance to this dictator,” said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.).
“Venezuela once had a strong democratic tradition and was close to the United States. Chavez’s death sets the stage for fresh elections,” Royce added. “While not guaranteed, closer U.S. relations with his key country in our Hemisphere are now possible.”
“Today, we do not mourn the death of Hugo Chavez, but instead, we celebrate the possibility that Venezuela can be born anew,” tweeted former Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.). “The Venezuelan people are entitled to free/fair elections ASAP so that they can begin to turn the corner on the dark legacy that was Chavez.”
“The United States has lost an enemy, the people of Venezuela have lost a dictator, and Satan has gained a new comrade tonight,” said Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas).