(CNN) – The civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., who ran for president twice in the 1980s, traveled to Caracas Thursday to attend the funeral of Hugo Chavez, the staunchly anti-American Venezuelan leader who died earlier this week.
In an opinion article on CNN.com, Jackson explained that in the South American nation he would "meet with political, religious and community leaders" to reiterate the official message from President Barack Obama's administration that the United States hopes to foster better ties with Venezuela.
Jackson is not a member of the official U.S. delegation to Chavez's funeral, which includes the American charge d'affaires at its embassy in Caracas, James Derham. U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-New York, and former lawmaker William Delahunt of Massachusetts make up the rest of the U.S. delegation.
The United States does not currently have an ambassador in Venezuela.
In his op-ed, Jackson advocates putting an end to the "hot rhetoric, demonization and policies of isolation" that have marked U.S.-Venezuela relations in recent years.
"It's time to forge a practical, productive relationship that will lead to normalization of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Venezuela," he wrote.
Chavez himself was also not immune from vitriolic rhetoric, famously speaking at the United Nations in 2006 referring to then-President George W. Bush as "the devil."
Jackson, who wrote in a statement on his Facebook page Friday that he was "saddened" by Chavez's passing, has a long and successful history of negotiating with foreign leaders the United States considers hostile.
In September of last year made a face-to-face appeal to Gambia's president Yahya Jammeh for the release of two American citizens serving prison sentences for treason in the African nation. That followed a 1999 negotiation with then-Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic that resulted in the release of three U.S. soldiers who had been held for over a month.
He's also dealt personally with Cuban leader Fidel Castro and the late dictator of Iraq Saddam Hussein.
I guess Rodman was busy so Jackson had to go in his place.
Shouldn't he be visiting his son and daughter-in-law in prison? That would be the family thing to do.
My husband is from South America and we watch ALOT of Spanish language television. Chavez was a dictator and Venezuela is a poorer (in all ways) country thanks to him. He amassed a fortune of $2 billion while in office...so much for helping the poor and oppressed.
Well, he loves our socialist dictator, is it any surprise he loved Venezuala's one? Jesse Jackson is a POS, as is his corrupt son. And like Chavez who died wirth $2 billion, I have to ask: how is it that Jesse Jackson is wealthy? Where does the money come from?
Funny how socialist types who believe in "re-distribution of wealth" all seem to end up so darned wealthy....
Wish they would keep him.
Hey whadda ya know.....a crook with a crook....both moonlighting as saviors.......amazing what the poor will believe in.....just shows how important education is. Cut the military, not education.
There is nothing like supporting a violent, murdering tyrant like Chavez. Support for Chavez would come from a Chicago Black who has supported the drug gang killings of kids for over 30 years! Personally, I'd put Jesse on the Do Not Fly List today and say good riddance to bad rubbish.
What is wrong with that guy?
I guess you're talking about the CEO's of Exxon-Mobil; AT&t; Facebook; Microsoft; UPS; General Mills; Boeing; Goldman Sachs and the other Fortune 500 that have "re-distributed" wealth from the pockets of ordinary working Americans into their own? Why don't you look up the CEO's (including the leader of your own job) and subtract what YOU make from his / her salary, benefits, stock options and "golden parachute". Come on. Be honest with us and post what that difference is. Then, we'll consider your argument about "re-distribution" of wealth.
Wow. I always knew people in the U.S. were ignorant but WOW....these comments here take the cake.
Chavez never invaded countries, never sent drones to kill people and terrorize communities. He only attempted to develop Venezuela and Latin America, and to keep it independent. Of course the privileged classes hate him, because democracy does mean re-distribution of wealth.
Latin America will continue it's fight for independence and development, no matter what people in the North think about it.
I may not agree with a lot of the things Jesse Jackson does or says, but he's still EARNED the right to say and do them. When I couldn't fight for myself, he was out there fighting for my rights and IF he commits/committed any crime, he should be punished as he is not above the law. In any event, I'm still appreciative for the lifestyle I enjoy today partly to him and others.