New York

13 March 2013

Secretary-General's remarks at General Assembly's tribute to the memory of President Hugo Chávez Frías of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

It is an honour to join with all of you in paying tribute to the work and memory of H.E. President Hugo Chávez Frías. 

President Chávez was one of those leaders who made a difference in his country, the region and the world.

His sense of solidarity with the most vulnerable and his commitment to improve the life of the most underprivileged resulted in a fierce attachment to the Millennium Development Goals.

He also showed solidarity toward other nations in the hemisphere. 

Perhaps most notably, President Chávez ensured that Venezuela provided crucial assistance to Haiti following the devastating earthquake of 2010. 

He always reminded the region of the historic debt that it owed to Haiti, the first republic to gain independence in Latin America and the Caribbean.

I also want to recognize the contribution that President Chávez made to the peace talks in Colombia between the Government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). 

Basing himself on an eminently Latin American vision, President Chávez provided decisive impetus for new efforts towards regional integration. 

The United Nations has followed with interest and appreciation the advancements in regional integration for which he gave momentum. 

The progress in this area is clear, as is illustrated by the Permanent Observer status before the General Assembly that the Union of South American Nations -- UNASUR -- acquired in 2011.

As the process of regional integration progresses, the key role that President Chávez has had in promoting the unity of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean will be present in everyone’s minds.

But perhaps President Chávez will be best remembered for his ability to connect at a human level with the most vulnerable and give voice to their aspirations.

In memorializing President Chávez, I would like to recall his message when he first addressed the General Assembly in 1999. 

On that occasion, he stated his wish that one day in the near future it would be possible to proclaim that “peace, democracy and development have triumphed”. 

Let us honour the legacy of President Chávez by renewing our pledge to work toward these noble goals.

I thank you.