Rep. Jose Serrano Says Late Venezuelan Was ‘A Leader Who Understood the Needs of the Poor’

U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano (D, NY-15) [official photo]

U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano (D, NY-15) [official photo]

One New York congressman’s constituents could be asking hard questions about his loyalties after he tweeted complimentary remarks about the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in the hours after the virulently anti-American left-wing autocrat’s death was confirmed by sources in the Venezuelan government.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano (@RepJoseSerrano) represents New York’s 15th Congressional District situated mostly in the South Bronx area of New York City, a seat that is so blue it’s indigo, but his words of praise for fallen strongman Chavez sent a shock across Twitter.

Serrano wasted no time in clarifying what he meant with a statement posted on his congressional website.

“I met President Chavez in 2005 when he came to my district at my invitation,” said Congressman Serrano. “His focus on the issues faced by the poor and disenfranchised in his country made him a truly revolutionary leader in the history of Latin America. His core belief was in the dignity and common humanity of all people in Venezuela and in the world.”

Chavez believed in dignity? According to Amnesty International’s 2010 annual report on Venezuela Serrano’s attempt to put lipstick on Chavez’ corpse is dubious. From the report:

Attacks, harassment and intimidation of those critical of government policies, including journalists and human rights defenders, were widespread. Unfounded charges were brought against those who opposed government policies. More special courts and prosecutor’s offices specializing in gender-based violence were established. However, the implementation of the 2007 law to eradicate violence against women remained slow.

Serrano does not weep alone for the thought of a world without Chavez. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter also issued a statement of condolence in which he professed similar admiration for the legacy Chavez leaves in Venezuela.

“President Chávez will be remembered for his bold assertion of autonomy and independence for Latin American governments and for his formidable communication skills and personal connection with supporters in his country and abroad to whom he gave hope and empowerment,” Carter said.

It’s really hard to debate Carter’s appraisal of Chavez’ talent for getting his point across. He captivated and inspired members of the United Nations with diatribes on the evils of America, most notably in 2006 when he called a sitting U.S. president “the devil.” In his second UN address, while swooning about the intellect of Pres. Barack Obama he remarked that the “smell of sulfur” had left the UN Assembly. Those sweet nothings pale in comparison to the caustic rhetoric he routinely spewed to his domestic audience.