Civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson praised deceased anti-American Venezuela President Hugo Chavez during the delivery of his eulogy Friday in Venezuela.
“Hugo fed the hungry,” said Jackson, who ran for president twice in the 1980s. “He lifted the poor. He raised their hopes. He helped them realize their dreams. And, so, today we do mourn, because we’ve lost a lot. But we have a lot left – a stable government, an orderly transition.”
Jackson prayed that Chavez, who famously called President George W. Bush "the devil” in 2006, would find peace in the afterlife, and for peace between the Latin American nation and the United States.
“We pray to God today that the soul of Hugo Chavez will find peace and accept service in the Kingdom,” he told the attendees of Chavez’s funeral, including actor Sean Penn who was seated in the front row of Chavez’s service. “Death is certain. Life is uncertain. Thus, a life of service matters.”
Jackson prayed that Chavez’s successor, Nicolás Maduro, would keep Venezuela’s “hopes and dreams alive, as he picks up the baton and makes a great nation greater.”
He then prayed for the almighty to repair the divide between the United States and Venezuela.
“We pray God today that you will heal the breach between the U.S. and Venezuela,” he said. “We are neighbors. We share the same hemisphere. We play ball together. We trade resources together. We fight drugs together. We share dreams together. We’re bound by culture and environment.”
Chavez, presented Jackson with the Liberator's Award in 2005.
Reverend Jackson has a long history of negotiating with foreign leaders who are hostile to the United States. He dealt personally with late dictator of Iraq Saddam Hussein and Cuban leader Fidel Castro. In 2012 Jackson made an appeal to Gambia's president Yahya Jammeh for the release of two American citizens serving prison sentences for treason in the African nation. He negotiated with then-Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic in 1999 to release three U.S. soldiers who had been held for over a month.