Chavez 'devil' speech recalled at UN tribute

The United Nations on Wednesday paid tribute to late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez at the scene of one of his most incendiary speeches.

Venezuela's Foreign Minister Elias Jaua highlighted the speech to the UN General Assembly in 2006 when Chavez lambasted then US president George W. Bush as "the devil".

"The devil came here yesterday, and it smells of sulfur still today," Chavez told shocked world leaders.

The speech infuriated the United States, but Jaua told the assembly "it was an ingenious form of denouncing bellicose imperialism."

Jaua said that Chavez, who died on March 5 after a battle with cancer, had been "the target of a systematic campaign of demonization by world leaders." But he added that Chavez had "transcended beyond borders" and had "died victorious".

UN leader Ban Ki-Moon made no mention of the speech in his tribute to the leftist leader.

"Perhaps President Chavez will be best remembered for his ability to connect at a human level with the most vulnerable and give voice to their aspirations," Ban said.

Chavez was "one of those leaders who made a difference," added Ban.