Tags: U.N. | Wrap-Up: | 'Chuckles' | Chavez | Does | More | Harm

U.N. Wrap-Up: 'Chuckles' Chavez Does More Harm Than Good

Sunday, 24 September 2006 12:00 AM

UNITED NATIONS -- "This had been one of the most boring General Assemblies; thank the stars for (Venezuelan president) Hugo Chavez," confessed one United Nations reporter.

Those stars were likely "comedy stars" as seen in Las Vegas, rather than stars in the sky over mid-town Manhattan.

The reporter was referring to the antics of the "colorful" Venezuelan leader who told the assembled GA delegates on Wednesday that the podium "smelled from sulfur," which he attributed to the presence of U.S. President George W. Bush (a.k.a. "the Devil"), who spoke from the same rostrum a day earlier.

Not mentioned at the time were "observations" made by U.N. staff who thought the "sulfur smell" may have come from U.N. chief Kofi Annan who opened the 2006 General Assembly on Tuesday.

Annan, who retires after 10 years at the U.N. helm, has often been called worse than "the Devil" by his own staff and numerous other United Nations workers.

Chavez ended his New York City "magical mystery tour" on Thursday, but the fallout of his act are still being felt. Democrats and Republicans alike blasted the Venezuelan president.

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., in whose Harlem district Chavez held a rally, called him "a disgrace."

Sen Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.,told reporters: "Hugo Chavez is a like a flasher at Times Square who drops his pants. You look to see what is going on, but you quickly lose interest."

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, meeting with California governor Arnold Schwarzeneger, told reporters that Chavez "was not worth my time."

N.Y. Governor George Pataki advised the Venezuelan "to get out of town and not come back."

While Hugo (whom the N.Y. Daily News labeled "Hugo Loco") got off to a fast start, by the end of his visit diplomats were wondering whether "Chuckles" (the clown, as some reporters called him) may have caused some serious damage to Venezuelan interests.

In mid-October, the U.N. elects five new non-permanent members to the Security Council for a two-year term.

Chavez has been fighting Guatemala (backed by Washington) for the Latin American seat on the Council.

Many in the 192-member General Assembly, which elects the council members, are now having second thoughts about whether Venezuela would be the best choice to fill the South American seat.

Some are visibly shuddering at the thought of Chavez coming back to the U.N. to assume the rotating presidency of the Security Council.

"What a site! I'm all ready!" laughed one reporter.

Others, did not find that prospect so funny.

Meanwhile, financial reporters are watching developments on Venezuelan-owned Citgo Corporation.

Citgo, the successor to the old Cities Service corporation, is one of the largest refiners of oil in the United States.

With more than $32 billion in sales and almost 12,000 gas stations (most independently owned) across the US, many are waiting to see the impact of a Citgo boycott being pushed by numerous U.S. politicians and special interest groups.

Several reports claim that nervous Citgo gas station owners have been receiving new signs with different names in case the boycott picks up steam.

Meanwhile, Chavez's comedy partners - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - had UN reporters scratching their heads trying to assess his visit.

The Iranian, who also left town on Thursday, concluded a visit that could have been an episode out of the "X-files."

Most reporters thought "the cerebral" former mayor of Tehran had something "important" to say, but three days after his U.N. address, they are still trying to figure out what it was.

"He loves the American people, OK . . . . but what does that mean?" asked one Arab reporter.

A Lebanese reporter who attempted to force an answer on whether Iran was secretly funneling illegal arms to Hezbollah got: "Are you a reporter or do you work for the Security Council. It seems you work for the Council," Ahmadinejad said.

To CNN's Anderson Cooper he quipped: "Do you have any thoughts of your own, or do you just repeat your government?"

On a more serious note, the Iranian left New York City leaving the on-going nuclear debate with the U.N. no closer to being resolved.

Iran's chief negotiator, Ali Larijani, and his team found themselves stranded in Europe waiting on visas from the State Department to come to New York City and meet European Union officials trying to broker an agreement with the U.N. The Security Council has threatened economic sanctions if a solution cannot be found in the "near future."

Meanwhile, Iran continues to enrich uranium, which it claims is related to commercial nuclear power development. Washington and the European Union suspect it is intended to contruct an atomic bomb.

As if the first week of the two-week annual GA was not enough, next week has the foreign ministers of Syria and North Korea speaking on Tuesday morning.

Hopefully, neither will complain of the smell of "sulfur" when they take to the U.N. podium.

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UNITED NATIONS -- "This had been one of the most boring General Assemblies; thank the stars for (Venezuelan president) Hugo Chavez," confessed one United Nations reporter. Those stars were likely "comedy stars" as seen in Las Vegas, rather than stars in the sky over...
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Sunday, 24 September 2006 12:00 AM
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