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Funeral Rights


Claim:   The Obama administration sent an official delegation to Hugo Chavez's funeral but "snubbed" the funeral of former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

MIXTURE:
TRUE: The U.S. sent an official delegation to Hugo Chávez's funeral.
 
FALSE: The U.S. sent no official delegation to Margaret Thatcher's funeral.
 
TRUE: The U.S. delegation to Margaret Thatcher's funeral included no current Democratic officeholders or major cabinet members.


Examples:

[Collected via e-mail, December 2013]

Obama is on his way to South Africa for Mandela's funeral. If you're a conservative American Patriot, you probably already know this, but in case it slipped your mind, here's a reminder of some current history regarding the snubbing of England and Margaret Thatcher's funeral...

President Obama was a no-show at Margaret Thatcher's funeral despite being invited to attend and thus snubbing England's invitation as a representative of the American people. Joe Biden also refused, as did Hillary Clinton. (By the way, former Secretary of State George Schultz went to the funeral). The British took note of the fact that the Obama administration chose not to send a single senior member of the Cabinet. In fact, no actively serving, elected Democrat attended Lady Thatcher's funeral. The Obama Administration did, however, send a formal delegation, of 14, to the funeral of Socialist Dictator Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Do you NOT see a trend? WAKE THE (EXPLETIVE DELETED) UP AMERICA!!
 

[Collected via e-mail, April 2013]

OBAMA WON'T SEND OFFICIAL DELEGATION TO THATCHER FUNERAL BUT SENT ONE TO CHAVEZ'S FUNERAL

In an amazing snub, Barack Obama, who sent an official delegation to Venezuela for tyrannical socialist dictator, Hugo Chavez's funeral, won't send one to Great Britain's Margaret Thatcher's.

This is shocking, but I guess it shouldn't be (although it still is!).

As with all things Obama, his words are a contrary indicator of what he actually does. His official statement about the passing of Baroness Thatcher, included saying, "With the passing of Baroness Margaret Thatcher, the world has lost one of the great champions of freedom and liberty, and America has lost a true friend."
 

[Collected via e-mail, June 2013]

The snubbing of England

Margaret Thatcher's funeral

You probably already know this, but in case it slipped your mind, here's a reminder of some current history....

President Obama was a no-show at Margaret Thatcher's funeral despite being invited to attend and thus snubbing England's invitation as a representative of the American people.

Joe Biden also refused, as did Hillary Clinton. (By the way, former Secretary of State George Schultz went to the funeral ...)

The British took note of the fact that the Obama administration chose not to send a single senior member of the Cabinet.

In fact, no actively serving, elected Democrat attended Lady Thatcher's funeral.

The Obama Administration did, however, send a formal delegation, of 14, to the funeral of Socialist Dictator Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died last month.

Need any more red flags???
 

Origins:   Hugo Chávez, the President of Venezuela from 1999 to 2013, and Margaret Thatcher, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990, passed away about a month apart: the former on 5 March 2013, and the latter on 8 April 2013. President Barack Obama of the United States did not himself attend either of their funerals, but (contrary to the first item reproduced above) the U.S. did send official delegations to both events.

The delegations representing the U.S. at the two funerals were similar, comprising mostly diplomatic personnel and former cabinet members and congressmen rather than current officeholders. The U.S. delegation to Hugo Chávez's funeral included U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York, U.S. Embassy Caracas Chargé d'Affaires James Derham, and former U.S. Rep. William Delahunt of Massachusetts. The U.S. delegation to
Margaret Thatcher's funeral included former U.S. Secretaries of State George Shultz and James Baker, U.S. Embassy London Chargé d'Affaires Barbara Stephenson, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Louis Susman. (Three current GOP members of the House of Representatives also attended Thatcher's funeral as part of a Republican delegation.)

Nonetheless, given the UK's historical status as a staunch ally of the United States, contrasted with Hugo Chávez's history of antipathy towards the U.S. and anti-American rhetoric, one might expect that the funeral of a long-serving UK prime minister would merit a much more substantial delegation than Hugo Chávez's would. Opinion was divided over whether the composition of the U.S. delegation to Margaret Thatcher's funeral constituted a "snub." The New York Post, for example, opined that:
As the world bids farewell to Lady Margaret Thatcher, it’s hard not to notice that America’s official presence at the state funeral for England’s most significant prime minister since Winston Churchill will be underwhelming. Instead of sending a high-ranking member of his own administration to lead the official delegation, President Obama has dispatched two former Republican secretaries of state, George Shultz and Jim Baker. Nothing against these men, but we can forgive the British for regarding Obama’s choice as yet another snub.
On the other hand, the official word from the UK's current Prime Minister, David Cameron, was that former Prime Minister Thatcher had not been "snubbed":
Asked whether the Prime Minister was disappointed with the American delegation coming to Lady Thatcher’s funeral, or whether it was a snub that no former presidents would attend, the PMS [Prime Minister's Spokesperson] said absolutely not and that the seniority of the America dignitaries attending was reflective of her global stature. He welcomed the fact that two former Secretaries of State with whom Lady Thatcher had worked very closely with were attending, saying it was testimony to the esteem in which she was held.
The reporting of the UK's Guardian newspaper was somewhat in between, describing the U.S. delegation as "low-key" while noting that the funeral's "ambiguous nature" had resulted in varying levels of representation from other nations:
The US is to send distinctly low-key official representation to Lady Thatcher's funeral, with a delegation led by George Shultz and James Baker, who both served as US secretary of state while Thatcher was in power.

The somewhat ambiguous nature of Thatcher's funeral, which is not a state event but nonetheless has many of the trappings of such a ceremony, given the involvement of the Queen and members of the armed forces, has prompted a varying response from other countries in terms of representation.

While some are also sending former leaders, for example Australia's John Howard, several serving prime ministers have said they will attend, including Stephen Harper of Canada, Italy's Mario Monti, and Donald Tusk from Poland.
The Obama administration's choice of delegations to represent the U.S. at the two funerals had a good deal to do with the current political status of the decedents. Margaret Thatcher had been out of office for over twenty years (well before the advent of the Obama administration), and her funeral was not a state event, so her U.S. delegation was headed by two former high-ranking cabinet officials from the Reagan administration who had worked closely with her while she was prime minister. Even though Hugo Chávez had been a thorn in the side of the U.S. for many years, his funeral was a state event because he was the sitting president of Venezuela at the time of his death, and the Obama administration was hopeful of using the occasion as a start towards establishing a better relationship with Venezuela through his successor. Thus the U.S. delegation to his funeral was led by one current and one former U.S. Representative, both of whom had dealt with Chávez and other Venezuelan leaders as members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee:
"I thought that the trip was very good," Congressman Gregory Meeks said. "I was welcomed there by both members of the opposition as well as people close to President Chávez. As you know, I got to know President Chávez quite well."

Mr. Meeks further said he was impressed by the wide range of international leaders in attendance, leaving him optimistic about the region’s future.

"It was an opportunity to hope that we have a better relationship with Venezuela in the future," he explained. "There were world leaders from many of our allies — Colombia, all of the Caribbean, and everyone who was there — so it was an opportunity to talk to them also about where we go from here and how we can improve relationships ... The hemisphere is important to us."

Mr. Delahunt, who served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee while in Congress from 1997 through 2011, has a history of quietly attempting to forge positive diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Venezuela.

During the early 2000s, he partook in a little reported effort known in foreign policy circles as the "Groupo De Boston," which brought U.S. members of Congress to meet socially with Venezuelan lawmakers in Caracas.
Last updated:   10 December 2013

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Sources:

    Campbell, Colin.   "Gregory Meeks Reports Back After Attending Hugo Chávez’s Funeral."
    Politicker.   11 March 2013.

    Cirilli, Kevin.   "Anger Over President Obama’s Margaret Thatcher Funeral ‘Snub'."
    Politico.   17 April 2013.

    Palmer, Brian.   "Why Did Hugo Chávez Hate the United States So Much?"
    Slate.   6 March 2013.

    Taylor, Guy.   "Obama Sending Official Delegation to Chavez Funeral."
    The Washington Times.   7 March 2013.

    Walker, Peter.   "Margaret Thatcher Funeral: US Opts for Low-Key Official Representation."
    The Guardian.   16 April 2013.

    gov.uk.   "Press Briefing: Morning 16 April 2013."
    16 April 2013.