Go to Hugo Chavez’s funeral John



John Key’s decision not to go to Hugo Chavez’s funeral on Friday (Latin American time) is a mind-boggling political blunder.

If “strengthening ties with Latin America” was Key’s mission, he would attend the funeral – alongside virtually every head of state in Latin America.

It is not as if John doesn’t have the time and opportunity. Chile’s president Sebastian Pinera, who was supposed to be hosting him on Friday, has postponed the meeting because he’ll be at the Chavez funeral.

President Pinera’s advisors might also have told Key’s people: “Seeing your Prime Minister is already in Latin America, why doesn’t he also go to the funeral. He’ll learn something about Latin America and why even a conservative president like Pinera appreciates what the Venezuelan president did for his people and how Chavez has been part of a continental re-awakening that we all benefit from. Being at the funeral is the best way you can show respect for the Latin American people and their aspirations.”

With almost willful blindness to the significance of the Chavez funeral for all Latin America, Key has given a lame excuse for his non-attendance, that “we haven’t had a political relationship of any great note with Venezuela.” That might carry more weight if Key was in New Zealand. But today he is visiting the country next door to Venezuela, – Colombia – on a goodwill tour of Latin America.

More likely, Mr Key’s diplomatic judgement is being clouded by years of bitter US condemnation of Chavez, and Key might think he would be letting Washington down if the attended the funeral.

Hugo Chavez’s big crime, to George Bush, Barack Obama and John Key, was to take radical measures to reduce the gap between rich and poor in his country – sometimes at the expense of powerful multinational companies. The outpouring of grief at Chavez’s passing – in Venezuela and across Latin America – is because the poor and dispossessed people really knew he was on their side. John Key is a different politician, which is perhaps why he can’t really comprehend the reverberations throughout Latin America this week following the death of Hugo Chavez.

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  1. John Keys appearance at the funeral of President Hugo Chavez would absolutely bring the message of statesmanship and good will his trip to South America was supposed to engender. Key has shown in the last year on numerous occasions his lack of pure political judgement. Missing this opportunity to show solidarity to the whole of the Americas is both rude and short sighted and is linked more to his allegiance to the Northern neighbour whose own links to the states to the south are fractious and lack trust. That’s another ball dropped J.K.

  2. Yes Comrade Locke, he can discuss how to curb freedoms of expression like Mr Chavez. Maybe learn out how to impose food rationing like the Castro’s do from the Cuban delegation. Maybe he can also hang out with some of Chavez’s mates from Iran and Syria. Maybe Robert Mugabe be there paying his respects to such a great guy. Maybe for once you can maybe show some else apart from your usual Anti American hysterical rants. Are you suggesting that if Mr Key was in South Korea he would have popped up North to pay respects to Kim Jong-Il as other leaders would have been there (obviously we all know you would have gone to pay your respects in the mass outpouring of grief shown there as well)

    • Good ideas, maybe when he’s in the US he could ask about how we’d go about setting up death squads to deal with the troubles in Fiji. Get some tips on torture while he’s at it.

  3. Dear leader once again has shown his naivety in foreign affairs and has missed a golden opportunity to establish links with Venezuela. Clearly Key does not understand that Chevez is a much loved and admired leader of his people and had he been a Statesman he would have recognised that he should attend the funeral to represent New Zealand. However Key would be too concerned about offending the Obama administration. I have yet to read if Key has sent the condolences of his government and the people of New Zealand to the Venezuelan people. Ron is right it would be an insult to Chevez memory if this fickle minded US lap dog attended Hugo’s funeral. I’m embarrassed by my Prime Minister.

  4. Key missed the funerals of two dead soldiers – Lance Corporals Pralli Durrer and Rory Malone – because of a baseball game in the US (his son was playing).


    ’nuff said.

  5. Chavez offended the powerful right wingers around the world by charging more than a pittance for his countries oil – and spending it on “shudder” the poor, indians and negroes in his country. He wasn’t a saint, but he certainly wasn’t the bullying dictator being made out by the western cabal, lead by the US and Britain – and they should know – they’ve been screwing South America for centuries!
    Key, being the grovelling opportunist he is, we should expect nothing else from him…

  6. The New Zealand we once were understood power must and should bend to wisdom, to rationality, to humanity. For our Prime Minister not to attend is an insult to the strong history of independence New Zealand has been respected for on the World stage.

  7. Wow – has anyone seen the ugliness of the comments over on the Stuff website in regards to Keith’s comments. It’s absolutely toxic. I guess that’s a reminder that there really are 40 percent of New Zealanders who think like John Key. I guess maybe if people judge New Zealand by John Key and the present government, that might be an accurate assessment.

    Apart from that, perhaps a site like Stuff shouldn’t be seen as the Main Stream Media anymore but a voice for the extreme right wing section of the population. Maybe when referring to Stuff and similar sites it would be more appropriate to call them the Right Wing Media (RWM).

    • Hi Another David. The comments forum on stuffed is appalling. The “opinions” are largely based on prejudice and ignorance. Commenters constantly get their facts wrong. There is very little in the way of rational argument going on and absolutely no one has a sense of humour. These surely must be Key’s voters. You think they would be happy with how things are working out for their lot but they can’t let go of kicking some one when they’re down, often beneficiaries and the unemployed. Worst of all the mods allow often quite overt sexist and racist comments through and they largely go unchallenged. I don’t read the comments any more – its just too depressing and it makes my eyes bleed.
      Those commenters you are referring to probably can’t even locate Venezuela on a map.

  8. Maybe he will figure it out, when he is continually asked why didn’t you go to the Funeral John? By every president he goes to see, and when he’s told to eff off by them.

  9. If he went to pay his respects he’d be pretending. However, more than his feelings and craven indulgence of US interests is at stake here. The Kiwi people, with a douchebag as elected representative, should pay our respects to the Venezuelan people via his attendance. The moron will severely damage any prospects of better relations with Latin America through this action. It will take them a while to forget.

  10. Key, as ever, is being true to his Wall street “ethics” and masters.
    NZ is irrelevant

    Key does not care a jot about NZ values or culture.

    Going to a Chavez funeral would upset Wall Street.

    A definite NO! No!

    NZ looks like shit?

    Who cares?

    Another smile and wave will get Key through.

  11. Key gets his instructions from Washington.

    Chavez brought big oil to heel. Chavez supporters thwarted the coup that Washington orchestrated to remove Chavez and reinstitute the looting of Venezuela.

    Fascists have to stick together.

    End of story.

  12. He’s probably sitting in his hotel room right now, waiting for everyone to get back from the funeral!

    • … probably not to be believed….

      Thanks to a blogpost on the standard, have just watched “The Revolution will not be televised”, shot during the 2002 coup by an Irish film crew. Worth watching, even if it does not change your mindset – though I have hopes – it may make you start to question some of the accusations made by the opposition in Venezuela.

      • What scared me was seeing the ‘national party’ looking people in parliament after Chavez had been kidnapped by the US, they looked so normal, but so do vampires when they aren’t sucking necks )


        2002 documentary about the April 2002 Venezuelan coup attempt which briefly deposed Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. A television crew from Ireland’s national broadcaster, RTÉ happened to be recording a documentary about Chávez during the events of April 11, 2002. Shifting focus, they followed the events as they occurred. During their filming, the crew recorded images of the events that they say contradict explanations given by Chávez’s opposition, the private media, the US State Department, and then White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer. The documentary says that the coup was the result of a conspiracy between various old guard and anti-Chávez factions within Venezuela and the United States.

  13. I applaud Mr Key for not going to the funeral of an anti-democratic, dictator, nut-job like Chaves. BRAVO Mr Key!

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