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New General Assembly Head Calls U.N. a 'Dictatorship'

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.nysun.com/foreign/new-general-assembly-head-calls-un-a-dictatorship/79348/ New General Assembly Head Calls U.N. a Dictatorship By BENNY AVNI,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 7, 2008
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      http://www.nysun.com/foreign/new-general-assembly-head-calls-un-a-dictatorship/79348/

      New General Assembly Head Calls U.N. a 'Dictatorship'

      By BENNY AVNI, Staff Reporter of the Sun
      June 5, 2008

      UNITED NATIONS — Newly elected as president of the
      U.N. General Assembly, one of America's fiercest
      longtime critics in Latin America is saying the
      dominance of a few countries has turned the United
      Nations into a dictatorship.

      Although Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann said yesterday that
      his previous comments against American leaders were
      part of "history," it appears that reversing decades
      of anti-American rhetoric will be a challenge for the
      former foreign minister of Nicaragua's Sandinista
      government.

      After his election yesterday to the presidency of the
      192-member assembly, Mr. d'Escoto called the United
      Nations the world's "longest-lasting dictatorship."
      Members of the assembly, he said, "must unite in the
      struggle to democratize the United Nations" and free
      the world "for the sake of present and future
      generations ... from the scourge of war among member
      states and acts of aggression such as those occurring
      in Iraq and Afghanistan."

      In a 2004 interview with the TV and radio program
      "Democracy Now!" Mr. d'Escoto, 75, called President
      Reagan "the butcher of my people."

      Hearing Reagan "talk about how we were supposedly
      persecuting Jews and burning down nonexistent
      synagogues, I was led to believe, really, that Reagan
      was possessed by demons," he told the program's host,
      Amy Goodman. "Frankly, I do believe Reagan, at that
      time, as much as Bush today, was indeed possessed by
      the demons of manifest destiny."

      Mr. d'Escoto, a Catholic priest, said yesterday that
      though he stands by his earlier statements, they are
      part of the past.

      "People seem to want change all over," he said. Asked
      whether his use of a campaign slogan favored by
      Senator Obama was a declaration of support for the
      Illinois senator's presidential candidacy, Mr.
      d'Escoto — who was born in California and received his
      religious training in America — said: "I am not an
      American."

      One of Mr. d'Escoto's biggest allies in Latin America,
      President Chavez of Venezuela, made an unsuccessful
      bid to gain a seat on the U.N. Security Council two
      years ago after telling the General Assembly that he
      could smell sulfur after Mr. Bush left the speaker's
      podium. "I smell the devil," Mr. Chavez said, to
      applause. But his remark turned off members of the
      Latin American voting bloc, who afterward refused to
      support his council campaign.

      Diplomats said America failed in its halfhearted
      campaign against Nicaragua's candidacy for the
      presidency of the General Assembly, which, though
      largely ceremonial, has become a springboard for its
      holders to careers as top international officials.

      Mr. d'Escoto, who will assume his post September 16,
      "is now the president of the General Assembly and his
      responsibility is to bring the members together to
      serve the entire membership of the United Nations,"
      the American ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay
      Khalilzad, who began his career in government as a
      protégé of Reagan, said yesterday.

      "We certainly disagree with that characterization of
      the two conflicts" in Afghanistan and Iraq, Mr.
      Khalilzad said. But Mr. d'Escoto "is not representing
      his government and its sort of partisan aspects in
      terms of policy." Or at least "that's our expectation,
      and we have been led to believe that he understands
      that, and so we will wait and see," the ambassador said.
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