September 24th, 2009
05:19 PM ET
11 years ago

Chavez: U.N. 'doesn't smell of sulfur anymore'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Alluding to his 2006 comment about former President George W. Bush, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Thursday 'It doesn't smell like sulfur anymore.'"]
UNITED NATIONS (CNN) - Drawing on 2006 remarks in which he compared former U.S. President George Bush to the devil, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, speaking at the United Nations Thursday, said, "It doesn't smell like sulfur anymore."

In a rambling speech at the U.N. General Assembly, Chavez spoke highly of current President Barack Obama, saying he is an "intelligent man" and comparing him to President John F. Kennedy.

"I hope God will protect Obama from the bullets that killed Kennedy," he said. "I hope Obama will be able to look and see, genuinely see, what has to be seen and bring about a change."

Three years ago, Chavez spoke at the gathering the day after Bush spoke, and said the lectern "still smells of sulfur."

But on Thursday he looked around the podium and said, "It doesn't smell of sulfur. It's gone. No, it smells of something else. It smells of hope."

He did, however, criticize some U.S. policies, questioning whether there are "two Obamas."

Chavez accused the Pentagon of being behind the ousting of Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya in a military-backed coup in June. "American soldiers knew about the coup and supported it," he said. "Hence the contradiction that Obama has to face. Are there two Obamas? Obama spoke here yesterday. Does he have a double? ... Let's hope the one we heard yesterday will prevail. Let us hope. That's what the world needs."

The United States and Brazil have said they support dialogue between Zelaya and de facto President Robert Micheletti, centered on the San Jose Accord brought about through the mediation of Costa Rican President Oscar Arias and the Organization of American States mission. That deal calls for Zelaya to be restored to office.

"The U.S. government, and this is strange, has not recognized the fact that a military coup d'etat has occurred," Chavez said. "There is some friction between the State Department and the Pentagon."

He said the coup was engineered by the Honduran bourgeoisie, "four or five wealthy, powerful families."

Chavez also called for the United States to lift what he called the "savage, murderous blockade" on Cuba, and was critical of plans to open U.S. military bases in Colombia, saying what the nation needs instead is aid to lift itself out of its civil war.

In addition, Chavez criticized capitalism and extolled the virtues of socialism, saying it is "the road to salvation for this planet."

He spoke for almost exactly an hour, less than the hour and 36 minutes Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi used on Wednesday. The Venezuelan president joked that he would not speak as long as Gadhafi, but said he planned to speak as long as Obama.

Asked to expand on his "two Obamas" comment at a news conference after his speech, Chavez said, "I think that one of the serious failures of the United States has been that, for a long time, it has underestimated and undervalued Latin America and the Caribbean. ... I hope that Obama turns around the vision of the White House and the Department of State of Latin America. They cannot continue to mistreat us."

He said one Obama spoke about peace in addressing the General Assembly, yet has seven U.S. military bases in Colombia. "There's a double somewhere," he said.

Asked by a reporter about the closures of television stations in Venezuela, Chavez said it was "a big lie" and asked her to provide an example. She asked about RCT, or Radio Caracas Television. Chavez told her the station broadcasts every day, but that a contract, or concession, had expired for its "open signal" and was not renewed.

"Never in Venezuela do we have as much freedom of expression as we do now," he said.

But, he asked, "What would happen here in the United States if CNN and other stations supported a coup? Not only would they be shut down, but their owners would have been taken to the electric chair."

Filed under: George W. Bush • Hugo Chavez • President Obama
soundoff (110 Responses)
  1. Jay Baum

    Birds of a feather . . . Chavez/Obama . . . Steal from the rich buy votes from the poor. Control the media. Crush opposition. Promote class warfare. Nationalize private buisness . . . and they are both in love with the man in their mirrors.

    September 24, 2009 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  2. bimmer

    Obama denies he was never Muslim (despite being fathered by a Muslim and having Hussein as middle name) but all the Muslim world are cheering for him.

    Obama denies he is a socialist, but all the socialists are cheering for him

    Who is telling the truth?

    Too many people cannot be wrong.

    September 24, 2009 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  3. Trang, Fremont, CA

    President Barack Obama,

    The news highlight people who have shady background liking you – ie. Khadafi, Chavez, Ahmadinejad, but there are many people w/ good characters liking you too – they just don't make the news ... because they are 'boring' to the news cycle. It's better to have friends than to have enemies. Ultimately, we are all children of God, we are all One, and the sooner we can make peace w/ one another, the better it is.

    September 24, 2009 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  4. K2

    Wow, the UN has really become a nice platform for the nutcases of the world to get up and speak their stupidity.

    September 24, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  5. Jay Baum

    Hey Lynne, How popular was America to Europe in 1945 ? Europe's respect for the United States in WWII was earned through blood. What has Obama done to EARN respect. Words are words, actions are what counts. Maybe Obama will learn that you do not earn respect by insulting your country. Maybe you will too.

    September 24, 2009 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  6. Toxibe

    What are the Republicans afraid of? I betcha they all feel naked being out of power!!!.

    September 24, 2009 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  7. Fred

    You have to admit, Hugo has a point. We now have a man in the White House who's capable, qualified, and bright enough to entice the many and "handle" the few. And I'm sure, the smell inside that building has become sweeter than the DC cherry blossoms. Go Barack..............detractors, KMA!

    September 24, 2009 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  8. Liberals are Hypocrites!

    OMG - what a nut job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And you libs buy into this? The one who smells of "sulphur" is Chavez! And - Obama's not far behind.

    September 24, 2009 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  9. Ken Williams

    No now it just stinks because your here Hugo!

    September 24, 2009 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  10. Jay Baum

    I have the same respect for Obama and Chavez. I think Chavez is power hungry, arrogant with contempt for his people. Yes I respect them equally.

    September 24, 2009 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
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