Friends, some of you might have seen my tweet from last week on the Maduro regime in Venezuela. It is right here, again, for context. I mentioned in my Retweet a story from a few years back, when dictator Hugo Chavez passed away. I’m here to provide you with more context and background than a tweet can allow.
At the time of Chavez’ death, as Parliamentary Secretary of Foreign Affairs, I acknowledged in a press release the dictator’s death and expressed hope for a more democratic and prosperous future for the Venezuelan people. This was routine and part of my duties. Pretty standard, right?! I was also asked by Prime Minister Harper to attend the funeral ceremonies taking place subsequently in Caracas – this is normal practice for ceremonials abroad to foster continuous bilateral relations (I also accompanied PM Harper in another instance to attend the funeral of Nelson Mandela, as well as other presidential swearing-ins and such).
In the end I was advised against going by DFAIT officials as they had briefed me that my press release from Canada had sparked outrage in Caracas and effigies of me, among other world leaders at the time who echoed my sentiments, were being burned on the streets of the capital, in the protest that followed the dictator’s death. Long story short – always speak your mind, and stand up for what is just and right in the world!