Venezuela’s fiery Chavez to speak at U.N. General Assembly debate

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, left, listens at the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.
A day after the Libyan and Iranian leaders lit up the U.N. General Assembly floor with sharp critiques, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a fiery speaker in his own right, is next up on the world stage.

Chavez, one of a long line of world leaders scheduled to address the assembly Thursday, is scheduled to be the first speaker in the assembly’s afternoon session. The leftist and populist Venezuelan leader — whose friendship with the Iranian regime and Cuba has spurred antagonism with the United States — is not shy about speaking his mind. And he has launched his share of fiery diatribes against Washington, once referring to former President George W. Bush as the “devil.” Wednesday’s session was punctuated by the performance of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, who delivered a blistering, wide-ranging 96-minute rant, reserving most of his ire for the United States and the U.N. Security Council.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s controversial president, also spoke Wednesday, slamming a variety of targets, including capitalism, the United States and Israel. Ahmadinejad said he had won “a large majority” in the June 12 elections that his critics say were rigged. Before his talk and near the United Nations, more than 400 anti-Ahmadinejad protesters demonstrated. Watch reactions to the two speakers Other high-profile leaders scheduled to speak Thursday are Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.