Rev. Jesse Jackson attending Chavez funeral
Hugo Chavez and the Rev. Jesse Jackson meeting in Caracas in 2005.
March 8th, 2013
11:04 AM ET
5 years ago

Rev. Jesse Jackson attending Chavez funeral

(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, 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.

Filed under: Jesse Jackson
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. tonyg

    I think Jackson should stay down there . . . we don't need you back here.

    March 8, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  2. Flyspec

    How dare this man approach any person perceived to be (valid or not), at odds with our right wing policies, with common sense abilities and motivations. We'll have none of that in our country. We are superior to heathens and we'll have no friends that can not be used on a moments notice. Oh! I forgot. The Bush Administration ended some time ago, didn't it.

    March 8, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  3. Sniffit

    Is there a way to increase the font size so I can say "MEH" as big as possible?

    March 8, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  4. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Why is this news? He isn't an official of the US government and not going at the behest of the US government either. Let him work to help people that need help here and leave him out of the the news.

    @Sniffit - you can always put "MEH" over the course of a full line.

    March 8, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  5. Peace

    You people out over there, why can't you be reasonable. There are a lot of people in the country who benefited from the oil signed to be realised by the late Hugo Chavez. Why love what comes from there and not the person who allowed to reach to the places where it was needed most?

    March 8, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  6. RR

    Who cares?

    March 8, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  7. Ben Dover

    Caracas, 2005, if we only had drones back then.

    March 8, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  8. Truth

    Hugo Chavez was a righteous man. What he did for the people of his country, in spite of the media, is truly remarkable. I only wish we had someone like him leading us here in the US. He was a man of tremendous compassion, exceptional courage, and remarkable intellect. He opened his mouth for the speechless and for those who were unjustly accused; he judged righteously and pleaded the cause of the poor and the needy (Prov 31:4-10). May He who is the source of mercy shelter him beneath His wings eternally, and bind his soul among the living, that he may rest in peace. Amen.

    March 8, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  9. Bill

    Thats a laugh. One corrupt, vile, power-hungry human being participating in the funeral of another with the same traits. Why is not in jail instead of taking trips?

    March 8, 2013 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  10. Don't know what he says

    but for years I have always wondered what Jesse says to hostile leaders behind closed doors. Like him or hate him, he seems to know how to get results. I often wondered if he smiles at them in public and threatens the wrath of the US behind closed doors.

    March 8, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  11. Seriously, people

    I'm glad we've got people like Jesse Jackson and Dennis Rodman who can.. uh... well, I'm sure they put forth the best face of America. Or something. Maybe they'd be happier staying in Venezuela and North Korea, respectively. Or maybe it's just me who'd be happier...

    March 8, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  12. Ed

    His taste in friends looks to be as good, or better than Dennis Rodman's.

    March 8, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Very few really champion the poor. he did. More then most people!

    March 8, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  14. munchmom

    Jackson needs to stay down there, and maybe run for president of that country. As far as I am concerned, he is a traitor to our great nation and he should become an ex-pat down there!

    March 8, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  15. Romney is Still NOT My Hero

    The United States does not currently have an ambassador in Venezuela.

    Seems like a hint that Jesse's going to put in his bid.

    March 8, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  16. SG

    Publicity pig. Real classy Jackson. Maybe you and Sean Penn can join Chavez in his special little room in hell.

    March 8, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  17. robert gralen

    Once again Jackson proves he is an idiot by attending the dictators funeral...

    March 8, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  18. Jack

    I heard Sean Penn turned this down, he was asking for a larger fee

    March 8, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  19. AgrippaMT

    Jesse has always been a shameless publicity hound. Nothing has changed.

    March 8, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  20. josenopy

    You know like I keep saying you Americans do not know anything about America so I know most of you do not know the History of Hugo Chavez relationship with America. He has a right to hate America the Bush WH removed the man from office and held his family including his kids and then the Bush WH had to put the man back in office after America found out. So you ask yourself if China removed Bush from office would you be mad. Shame on us. Yes the man loved America before Bush messed it up.

    March 8, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  21. ritmocojo

    'Yesterday the Devil stood in this very spot. One can still smell the sulfur." = Priceless

    March 8, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  22. don in albuqueque

    It's easy to get sideways with the USofA. All you have to do is tell the oil companies they do not get to continue robbing your country of its natural resources, they gotta pony up. Instant Public Enemy Numer One. And yes the odor of brimstone does seem to follow W around.

    March 8, 2013 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  23. ronvan

    The two of them can now join Jain "Hanoi" Fonda! Giving aid and comfort to an enemy is NOT what we do!

    March 8, 2013 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  24. mark

    jessie – the biggest moth in the world....get a job

    March 8, 2013 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  25. SARAH

    God bless Chavez !!.....he was a great leader, we will miss him.

    March 8, 2013 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
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