No American politicians have praised controversial Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died yesterday, except for Rep. Jose E. Serrano (D-NY), who tweeted on Twitter on Tuesday: "Hugo Chavez was a leader that understood the needs of the poor. He was committed to empowering the powerless. R.I.P. Mr. President."
Rep. Serrano, who made a deal with Chavez to import Venezuelan oil to help heat homes in a poor section of New York City, also released a longer statement on his government website page:
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Though President Chavez was accused of many things, it is important to remember that he was democratically-elected many times in elections that were declared free and fair by international monitors. Even today, people in North America seem unable to accept that Venezuelans had taken our admonitions to have democracy to heart and elected the leader of their choice.
President Chavez was a controversial leader. But at his core he was a man who came from very little and used his unique talents and gifts to try to lift up the people and the communities that reflected his impoverished roots. He believed that the government of the country should be used to empower the masses, not the few. He understood democracy and basic human desires for a dignified life. His legacy in his nation, and in the hemisphere, will be assured as the people he inspired continue to strive for a better life for the poor and downtrodden.