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Coverage of Chávez's 'devil' speech ignores call for UN reform

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Section: International News Geography: Latin America Venezuela Topics: UN

September 25, 2006

Coverage of Chávez's 'devil' speech ignores call for UN reform

by Anna Carastathis

In his address to the 61st session of the United Nations General Assembly last week, on Wednesday, September 20, a member of the "axis of evil" called US President George Bush "the devil." In the same speech, Hugo Chávez, President of Venezuela, argued for UN reform, claiming that the General Assembly has degenerated into "a merely deliberative organ" lacking any real power.

Media coverage of the speech latched onto Chávez's incendiary rhetoric, largely ignoring the substance of his speech. In particular, little mention was made of Chávez's five proposals for a "re-established" United Nations:

(1) giving nations from the global south (especially "LDCs", or "Least Developed Countries") expanded access to security council seats;
(2) generating effective methods to address and resolve conflicts and increasing the transparency of such decisions;
(3) immediately divesting the five permanent seats on the security council of veto power (which, since 1972, the US has exercised most frequently, most recently to allow the Israeli bombing of Lebanon);
(4) increasing the powers of the UN secretary general;
(5) moving the UN to a city in the global south.

These proposals echo Chávez's call last year for a "new international order" .

Venezuela is currently seeking a seat in the UN Security Council. The United States and Canada are backing the rival South American candidate, Guatemala, for the rotating seat. Venezuela will need a two-thirds majority to win the non-permanent seat, which it has previously occupied four times. According to Cyril Mychalenjko (upsidedownworld.org), the US opposes Venezuela's candidacy because Chávez has now twice argued for radical UN reform.

Note: though the text of Chávez's address has yet to be posted on the
UN website, it can be read at counterpunch.org.

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