Former President Jimmy Carter issued a statement following the death of Hugo Chavez in which he praised the dictator’s “commitment” to improving the lives of Venezuelans.
“We came to know a man who expressed a vision to bring profound changes to his country to benefit especially those people who had felt neglected and marginalized,” said Carter in a statement posted on The Carter Center website. “Although we have not agreed with all of the methods followed by his government, we have never doubted Hugo Chavez’s commitment to improving the lives of millions of his fellow countrymen.”
The former U.S. president’s remarks drew swift reaction on social media website Twitter.
“Former US president Jimmy Carter says he hopes people will remember Hugo #Chavez's "positive legacies," said one tweet.
“Liberal Democrat & former President Jimmy Carter mourns the death of dictator Hugo Chavez and his ‘positive legacies,’” read another.
Carter said that he and former first lady Rosalynn Carter first met Chavez when he was campaigning for president in 1998. The Carter Center was invited to observe elections in the South American nation at the time.
“We came to know a man who expressed a vision to bring profound changes to his country to benefit especially those people who had felt neglected and marginalized,” said Carter.
“President Chavez will be remembered for his bold assertion of autonomy and independence for Latin American governments and for his formidable communication skills and personal connection with supporters in his country and abroad to whom he gave hope and empowerment,” according to Carter, who praised “new forms of integration” that Chavez helped create along with other leaders in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Venezuelan poverty rates were cut in half, and millions received identification documents for the first time allowing them to participate more effectively in their country's economic and political life,” said Carter.
“At the same time, we recognize the divisions created in the drive towards change in Venezuela and the need for national healing,” he said.
Finally, Carter added his wish that the country’s political leaders will build on Chavez’s legacy.
“We hope that as Venezuelans mourn the passing of President Chavez and recall his positive legacies — especially the gains made for the poor and vulnerable — the political leaders will move the country forward by building a new consensus that ensures equal opportunities for all Venezuelans to participate in every aspect of national life,” Carter said.
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