Chavez at it again? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 21, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 21, 2009

Chavez at it again?

THE photograph of President Barrack Obama and Hugo Chavez shaking hands seems to have caused some furore of minuscule proportion amongst the cross section of American people. While some welcome the signs of improvement of relationship between the two countries, others feel the US president should have given the incorrigibly provocative dictator a cold shoulder. This is despite the fact that Venezuela is the fourth-largest foreign supplier of oil to the US So, you see, good old Chavez has done it again.
If you are curious, here are some of the comments I have picked up from the Net (Blog) that appeared immediately after the photo (given with this article) was published in the media. Here are some of them:
"Not impressed by this whatsoever. Chavez has nothing but disdain for our country though he loves taking our money when we buy his oil. He has dissed us at the UN. He has called our presidents idiots, yet, now the same man he called an idiot two weeks ago, is shaking his hand and smiling? What hypocrisy… on both their parts. "
"This is disgusting. Obama is sickening. How in the world can he shake the hand of someone as despicable as that disgusting man? May god help us all. I am so glad that I did not vote for Obama. He has brought disgrace on this nation in so many ways"
"If bush smelled like sulphur, Obama and Chavez smell like trouble for America it never ceases to amaze me the stupidity of this administration. To openly apologise to a tyrant like Chavez is an embarrassment to this country and the citizens he is paid to represent and protect. I worry for my 6-yr-old daughter and her future because of Obama and congress. It is a sad day for Americans.
"Chavez is a democratically elected president! We are talking about Venezuela, not Saudi Arabia. Please, please, educate yourselves and stop depending on Newsmax and fox news to tell you what's happening in the world. You are getting mad and scared and you don't even know why! "
"President Obama's smiling/hand-shaking pictures with Castro and Chavez will soon be plastered all over Cuba and Venezuela and will be used as signs that America supports their repressive regimes. President Obama's behaviours continue to be just unbelievable."
"That picture makes me sick... just proves that Obama cares nothing about this country. When will people wake up and get this person out of office???? As I said in another blog the only reason Obama won in the first place was acorn taking people to vote and telling them who to vote for because half the people have no education and can't think for themselves. No more of my money to acorn…"
Wow! Plenty of angry people out there!
It seems Hugo Chavez still has the uncanny habit of picking up quarrels with America. No matter what he says or does, goes against him. First, he had baffled the world once when he said at the UN, "I can smell sulphur in the air. The devil was here yesterday." Outrageously naughty, isn't it? It had amused billions of world citizens who didn't consider George Bush their buddy in the block. Many even thought some of those grim-looking guys at the White House possibly had a good laugh over it, of course after locking themselves up in the washrooms.
And now, Chavez is being whipped for even doing something civilised -- a handshake! Come on, a handshake is a handshake! Doesn't the guy have the right to shake the hands of the president of the United States of America? Not only that, he has also spoken about taking steps to improve relationship with America. He will soon send an ambassador to the US to start the diplomatic damage control bit.
Isn't it a wonderful way of recognising each other's right to live in this world that belongs to all of us? If one-fourth of American cars are run on Venezuelan petrol, why can't the owners of those cars say 'Hi' to the Venezuelan people -- including its president, leftist or no leftist? They need each other, don't they? It is apparent that Chavez has no grudge against the people of America. And if he has over-reacted to the policies of George Bush, then who hasn't? He may lack finesse, but surely not firmness in speaking out what he felt was right. If Chavez wants to look taller, if not in height but in demeanour and dignity, in stature and statesmanship, then why should the world criticise him?
And those Americans with anti-Hugo comments on Blogs don't really speak for every citizen of the US. I am sure, the majority would want to see the Obama administration be proactive in making the list of US enemies shorter and that of friends longer. Is there any harm in that? Shouldn't each American, irrespective of political affiliation, be an US ambassador to promote peace in the world for the sake of America itself? One blogger wrote that she was worried about her 6-year-old daughter and her future. I feel she should have supported Obama or even Chavez if it comes to ending enmity and working for peace. Lady, otherwise, what would your daughter do in the war-torn world?
I wonder what makes people like Hugo Chavez so courageous and defiant. How dare they look in the eyes of the rulers of mighty countries and say something we can never think of saying? We cannot even lift our eyes before some under-under-under secretary, or nondescript MP, when they put words in our mouth. It is dignity, my dear Watson.

Shahnoor Wahid is a Senior Assistant Editor of The Daily Star. He can be contacted at shahnoorwahid

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