Fri, Sep 22, 2006 - Page 7 News List

`The devil' and Hitchcock at the UN

SMELL OF SULFUR The Venezuelan president didn't mince his words at the UN, where he compared Bush to 'the devil' and his vision to the stuff of a Hitchcock plot

AFP , UNITED NATIONS

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gestures during a press conference at the 61st session of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.

PHOTO: EPA

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez stunned the UN General Assembly with a speech on Wednesday in which he called US President George W. Bush "the devil" who acts like he owns the world.

Chavez infuriated US officials with his sarcastic presentation, in which he said "yesterday [Tuesday] the devil came here," referring to Bush's speech from the same stage 24 hours earlier.

"And it still smells of sulfur today, this table that I am now standing in front of."

Chavez then crossed himself, brought his hands together as if in prayer and looked up to the ceiling of the assembly chamber.

"Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the [US], the gentleman I call `the devil,' came here, talking as if he owned the world. Truly. As the owner of the world," he said

Chavez launched a virulent attack on what he said represented US "hegemony" and "imperialism." Soon thereafter, he renewed calls for drastic reform of the UN in order to reduce the influence of the US and other states.

His speech was warmly applauded by members of the Assembly. It was the second anti-Bush tirade at the Assembly in two days, following Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech on Tuesday.

Chavez brandished a book titled Hegemony or Survival by the left-wing US intellectual Noam Chomsky.

He also quoted Aristotle and said that Bush's vision of democracy was like a script taken straight out of an Alfred Hitchcock thriller.

He said the film should be titled The Devil's Recipe.

Chavez called Bush "a liar" and "a tyrant" who should be taken before an international tribunal because of the US-led invasion of Iraq.

He said Bush supports terrorism and that the US president's speech to the UN Assembly on Tuesday should be examined by a psychiatrist.

"We cannot allow world dictatorship to be consolidated," he said. US "imperialism," he added, was "a threat to the survival of the human race." Bush promoted "a false democracy of the elite" and a "democracy of bombs."

Chavez is a frequent critic of the US administration, which he accuses of backing a plot to overthrow him. He renewed the accusation during the speech.

Washington considers Chavez, a close ally of Cuban President Fidel Castro, to be a destabilizing influence in Latin America -- even as the US is a major consumer of Venezuelan oil.

When asked about the speech, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she would "not dignify" the attack with a comment. "It is not becoming of a head of state," she said.

"We're not going to address that sort of comic strip approach to international affairs," said John Bolton, the US ambassador to the UN.

Chavez also said the UN headquarters should be moved away from New York, and suggested that even Venezuela would be a better place.

He called for an expansion of the Security Council, more effective mechanisms to handle world conflicts, greater powers for the secretary-general and an end to the veto of any resolution from the permanent members: the US, Russia, China, Britain and France.

"Let's be honest. The UN system born after [World War II] has collapsed, it is worthless," Chavez said.

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