By Jack Tomas
As I was watching the news this weekend I caught a glimpse of one of my favorite cartoon characters: Hugo Chavez. He’s currently undergoing cancer treatment in Cuba and has lost his hair. He looks like a little Venezuelan Buddha and I just want to rub his belly. Despite what Oliver Stone might tell you, Hugo Chavez is not a nice guy. He has curtailed freedom of the press, freedom of expression, rewritten the constitution allowing him to be president indefinitely, has stated that he would like to make all of South America one big country (under his system), is constantly threatening Columbia militarily, and other dictatory stuff. The thing about Chavez is, that he’d be one of the most dangerous men in Latin America if only he could be taken seriously. But the stuff he says and does is so goofy, all you can do is say, “Oh Hugo, you nut!” and all laugh in a group. You know, like at the end of a Scooby Doo cartoon. Here are 5 of the wackiest things Hugo has ever done or said.
Hugo is totally in love with Simon Bolivar and wants to have, like, 5000 of his babies. The Venezuelan general, who helped free a large part of South America from Spanish rule, is Hugo’s hero. Hugo named his political movement Bolivarism after Bolivar, though we doubt Bolivar would approve. So, when Hugo got himself a parrot he named him Simon Bolivar. This in and of itself is not strange. What is strange is when Hugo makes the parrot wear a red beret and sit on his shoulder. That’s right, he had someone make a tiny beret. For a parrot.
“So? Who cares if he hates Coke Zero?”, you might be thinking. It’s not that he personally doesn’t enjoy Coke’s zero calorie drink it’s why he doesn’t. Hugo was thinking about the growing obesity epidemic and what to do about it. Certainly, high sugar sodas in large quantities can make you gain weight. But he didn’t outlaw regular coke or any other sugary soda, just Coke Zero. He said that he thought Coke Zero was a Yanqui imperialist indoctrination tool to make Venezuelans think it was OK to drink sodas. This would then make them all fat and unable to fight.
Halloween has become popular in Venezuela due to the influence of American TV and culture. So, of course Hugo wouldn’t like it, right? His problem with Halloween isn’t that it’s American or driven by consumerism. Hugo’s problem is that it’s scary. He doesn’t think it’s good for kids to be scared by ghosties and goblins as it is an act of “imperialist terror” on the part of the United States. Every time a kid is scared by a rubber skeleton, a proletarian brother is flogged by the industrial bourgeoisie.
Chavez is not a fan of golf, not because it is hella boring and leads to people wearing plaid pants. Hugo has had many of Venezuela’s top golf courses shut down. He hates golf because it is a bourgeois sport and is a waste of land that could be used for something productive. This in spite of the fact that his BFF Fidel Castro loves golf and has ordered more golf courses to be built in Cuba. Actually…we can’t argue with this one. Golf is pretty lame and bourgeois.
Hugo has suppressed many reporters and TV channels that have been critical of his policies. Luckily, he has his own TV show where he can talk about whatever pops into his weirdly shaped head. It is called, “Alo Presidente” and largely consists of Chavez blabbing on about something or other. Like the time he said that capitalism had destroyed life on Mars. Classic. The show is 5 hours long, like “Sabado Gigante” but without the pretty girls or the audience getting to sing the Ultra-Tide song. It is expected that all TVs in public places will be tuned to “Alo Presidente” when it is on. What could be more entertaining than a talk show where one guy talks to himself for 5 hours?