EspañolHugo Chávez may well be the most controversial Latin-American leader of recent times. His statements drew sighs, endless applause, tears, resignation, visceral insults, and laughter. Even though some of his famous quotes were full of irony, most of them still had a polemical intent.
Chávez was able to politicize any speech. Some of his TV appearances went around the world, others offered with a dash of South American and Caribbean humor. A day after his 60th birthday — celebrated as if he were alive — we review the best lines from El Comandante Supremo that will be remembered for a long time to come (NB: strong language).
10. Bush Is an Imperialist Devil
Making the sign of the cross, the charismatic Chávez described then-US President George W. Bush before UN General Assembly in 2006.
“The devil is at home. The devil came yesterday here. This very spot still smells like sulfur.”
9. Capitalism Brought the End of Life on Mars?
“It wouldn’t be strange for there to have been civilization on Mars, but capitalism and imperialism likely arrived there, and put an end to the planet. Watch out! Be careful!”
8. You Are a Donkey!
In 2006, Chávez insulted George W. Bush by accusing him of genocide and of being a donkey, an alcoholic, and immoral.
“You are an ignoramus, Mr. Danger; you are a donkey, Mr. Danger; or to say it to you in my bad English, you are a donkey, Mr. Danger.”
“Come on here, Mr. Danger, coward, murderer … you commit genocide; you are an alcoholic; you are a drunk; you are the worst, Mr. Danger… You are the worst on this planet. God save the world from this threat.”
7. Imperialism-Induced Cancer?
“Would it be so strange for them to have developed a technology to spread cancer without anyone knowing about it at this time, only for us to discover it in 50 years, or I don’t know when?” (2011).
6. Time for a Climate Bailout
“If the climate were a bank, [the United States] would already have saved it,” at the Climate Change Summit of Copenhagen in 2009.
5. A Flashlight Can Solve the Energy Crisis.
On September 4, 2009, during the announcement of measures to solve the energy crisis:
“If you wake up at 3:00 in the morning to go to the bathroom, buddy, why are you turning on some lights? Put a flashlight there, on your bedside table.”
4. Why Don’t You Shut Up? I’d Rather Indefinite Election, Thanks
King Juan Carlos I of Spain asked Hugo Chávez to shut up at the 2007 Ibero-American Summit in Santiago, Chile, amid a heated debate
The late Venezuelan president later added that he was not a “golden coin” to “be liked by everyone.”
“I’m sure that next year you will elect me for another six more years. And in 2019, when I said I was going to leave, I won’t leave either. 2019-2024, 2024-2030, there we go so help me God and the Virgin.”
3. No Weekend Pay for Revolutionary Cameramen
Amid the filming of what used to be his Sunday TV show, Chávez scolded the cameramen standing there and asked them if they were “true revolutionaries.” If this were true, explained the late president, they should work as volunteers with no extra pay on Sundays to avoid the impact on the public budget.
2. “Go to Hell, Fucking Yankees!”
Chávez decided to expel the US ambassador in Caracas as a show of support for his Bolivian colleague Evo Morales, who similarly ordered the expulsion of the US ambassador from La Paz, after accusing him of inciting violence in areas ruled by the opposition.
“With a new government in the United States, we will send an ambassador. When a [future] administration respects the rights of Latin Americans.” And then he added, “Go to hell, fucking Yankees, here you will find people with dignity.”
1. “The Pope Is No Ambassador of Christ”
“With all due respect to the Vatican and its head of state, the pope, who could never be an ambassador of Christ to the earth, as people say. For goodness sake! What can this be? Christ doesn’t need an ambassador. Christ is with the people and with those who struggle for justice and liberation for the poor.” This was in July 2010, after the Catholic Church criticized his administration.
Bonus: On His Birthday, Chávez Returned as a Little Bird to Maduro
“I must confess that a little bird appear around there. It told me, and asked me to keep it for me, so you [the audience] must not tell anyone. The commander was happy, full of love from his people, of loyalty, he must be proud. But don’t tell anyone,” said Chávez’s successor after the opening ceremony of a park named after the late president.”