Calling it "insensitive" and "impertinent," the Venezuela government has protested against the condolence statement that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued after the death of President Hugo Chavez Tuesday.
In a short and brief statement, Harper had conveyed his condolences "to the people of Venezuela" and not his family on the demise of President Chavez adding that he hoped to see a more democratic and free Venezuela henceforth.
"Canada looks forward to working with his successor and other leaders in the region to build a hemisphere that is more prosperous, secure and democratic," Harper said in the statement.
"At this key juncture, I hope the people of Venezuela can now build for themselves a better, brighter future based on the principles of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights".
During a time when Foreign Minister John Baird's plan to visit Venezuela could never be successful, Canada's hopes to build a better trade relations with the country seem to have suddenly found its way with the obstacle removed. While the death of the leader invited much tears on Venezuelan streets, cheers from across the globe have only provoked the socialist government. That some nations should think of accelerating its economic motives when the country is grieving has only further raised temperatures in Venezuela.
More importantly, Harper's hope to work "with his successor and other leaders in the region" does not seem to have invited a promising initial response.
The Canadian Press has reported that Vice-Minister for North America (Foreign Affairs) Claudia Salerno in a "card of protest" revoked the PM's statement "as they constitute insensitive and impertinent sentiments at a time when the Venezuelan people are grieving and crying over the irreparable physical loss of the Commander President Hugo Chavez Frias".
The Bolivarian leader, who openly attacked "imperialists" and remained a prominent adversary to the United States' foreign policies, had attracted much distaste from U.S.'s allies like Canada. Harper in the past had openly challenged the world view of Chavez calling it the principles that opposed sound economic policies, promoting socialist cold war and denouncing the democratic progress the region had made.
Now that the leader is gone, gone too are the principles that many countries consider obsolete. And with that, Canada's trade interests in the region have further intensified. As the country hopes to strike the iron when it is hot, the question of whether or not Canada receives the kind of response from the Venezuelan government as it expects lies in deep limbo.
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