‘The hill will open up and a big atomic bomb will come out,’ 2012
Looks like Hugo Chávez is kicking off 2012 in pretty much the same spirit as 2011. The Venezuelan dictator met with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during the Iranian president’s tour of Latin America, and the pair got on famously—holding hands, hugging, and laughing together. The pair promised to “unite forever” (Ahmadinejad’s words) due to the “imperial madness” (Chávez’s comments) that have brought them together as allies. There was still time for topical humor: Chávez joked a nuclear bomb was under a grassy knoll nearby, saying “the hill will open up and a big atomic bomb will come out.”
Blames U.S. for Cancer, 2011
When even Chávez claims something is “very difficult to explain,” you have to know that things are about to get very weird. The Venezuelan president said on Dec. 29 that the U.S. has been using cancer as a weapon in South America, given the high rates of cancer. “Would it be so strange that they’ve invented technology to spread cancer and we won’t know about it for 50 years?” Chávez asked in a speech to the military. Chávez has been treated in recent months for an undisclosed form of cancer, and he joins a long list of other South American leaders with cancer, including Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and her predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, as well as Paraguay’s Fernando Lugo and, most recently, Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Chávez followed up by saying, “I’m just sharing my thoughts, but it’s very, very, very strange.” He also said former Cuban leader Fidel Castro used to warn him about U.S.-backed assassination attempts. “Fidel always tells me, ‘Chávez be careful, they’ve developed technology, be careful with what you eat, they could stick you with a small needle,” Chávez said.
Blames U.S. Weapons Test for Haiti Earthquake, 2010
Chávez’s cancer claims aren’t the first time he has accused the U.S. of being responsible for unspeakable horrors. In 2010 he claimed that a U.S. weapons test caused the devastating Haitian earthquake, which claimed some 230,000 lives.
Calls Condoleezza Rice ‘Little Girl,’ 2007
What did Condoleezza Rice ever to do attract so much attention from dictators? Rice was a repeated target of Chávez's, who frequently referred to the secretary of state as a “little girl.” In a 2007 radio address he said, “What does the empire want? Condoleezza said it. How are you? You’ve forgotten me, missy.” When Rice referred to Venezuela as a menace to regional democracy in 2006, Chávez issued a warning to her, blowing a kiss at her and referring her to as “Condolence.” “Remember, little girl, I’m like the thorn tree that flowers on the plain,” Chávez said. “Don’t mess with me, Condoleezza. Don’t mess with me, girl.”
U.S. Occupied Haiti in Disguise of Aid
Prior to blaming the U.S. for the Haitian earthquake, Chávez had previously decided the U.S. was using the earthquake as an excuse to “occupy” Haiti “undercover” —and the U.S. only wanted to get to Venezuela, for oil. “I read that 3,000 soldiers are arriving, Marines armed as if they are going to war,” Chávez said in his weekly television show. “On top of that, you don’t see them [the military] in the streets. Are they picking up the bodies? … Are they looking for the injured? You don’t see them. I haven’t seen them. Where are they?” Chávez said he didn’t wish to diminish any humanitarian efforts; he just questioned why soldiers were necessary.
Capitalism Destroyed Mars, 2011
In a speech about World Water Day, Chávez mentioned a previously unknown victim of the water wars: Mars. That’s right, Chávez claimed that he had “always said” that “it would not be strange to hear that there had been civilization on Mars, but maybe capitalism arrived there, imperialism arrived, and finished off the planet.” Chávez holds capitalism responsible for many of the world’s problems, and he blamed it for the drying up of Earth’s resources as well. “Here on planet Earth, where hundreds of years ago or less there were great forests, now there are deserts,” he said.
In a speech at the United Nations’ General Assembly—which seems to be a frequent place for some crazy rants—Chávez declared that President George W. Bush was “the devil.” “He came in here talking like he owned the world,” Chávez said about Bush. Chávez said Bush promoted “democracy for the elite” and a “democracy of bombs,” and then called on the U.N. to break free from the U.S.’s influence. Saying the U.N. “doesn’t work,” Chávez said “Let’s be honest … the U.N. system born after World War II collapsed. It doesn’t work.” After the speech, Chávez refused to back down from his comments about the U.S., saying in a press conference that the country is “on its way down,” which would be “for the good of all mankind.”
Calls Bush a ‘Donkey’ and ‘Drunkard,’ 2006
Calling Bush “the devil” was not the only time Chávez threw barbed words toward the U.S. president. In a 2006 weekly television address, Chávez called Bush a “donkey” after the White House called Chávez a “demagogue.” “You’re an alcoholic, Mr. Danger; or rather, you’re a drunkard,” Chávez said. “Drunkard” was one of his favorite insults for Bush, who was public about his struggles with drinking in his younger days.
Chávez continued to hurl insults at Bush. When the U.S. State Department expressed concern about the Venezuelan government’s decision to allow Chávez more lawmaking powers, Chávez used his weekly radio address to tell the U.S., “Go to hell, gringos! Go home!” Chávez also criticized the U.S.’s involvement in Iraq, saying, “They took out Saddam Hussein and hung him, for good or for worse. It’s not up to me to judge any government, but that man was president of that country.”
Calls Israel’s 2006 Offensive a ‘New Holocaust’
The U.S. was not the only target of Chávez’s criticisms. In a 2006 radio and television broadcast, Chávez declared Israel had “gone mad” and accused the country of a “new holocaust.” In similar rhetoric that Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and former North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il were using at the time, Chávez said Israel was “attacking children, and no one knows how many have been buried.”
Calls Robert Mugabe a ‘Freedom Fighter’
Keeping with his tradition of aligning himself with misunderstood foreign leaders, Chávez praised Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe as a “freedom fighter” at the G-15 summit for developing nations in 2004. “I give you a replica of liberator Simon Bolívar’s sword,” Chávez said, referring to the 19th-century South American revolutionary. “For you, like Bolívar, took up arms to liberate your people. For you, who, like Bolívar, are and will always be a true freedom fighter. [Mugabe] continues, alongside his people, to confront the pretensions of new imperialists.” Mugabe must have been pleased with the sword: he smiled as he unsheathed it, and then swung it around.
Equates Halloween With ‘Terrorism,’ 2005
Foreign policy is not the only area where Chávez made some wacky comments. In a 2005 weekly radio and television broadcast, Chávez took the chance to attack a favorite American holiday: Halloween. Comparing Halloween to “terrorism,” Chávez said the observance of the holiday is “strictly gringa.” “Families go and begin to disguise their children as witches. That is contrary to our way.”
Attacks ‘Monstrous’ Breast Implants, 2011
Chávez also is not against criticizing his own people. In 2011 the president took to a “monstrous thing” he had been witnessing in his country: breast implants. Venezuela has one of the world’s highest plastic-surgery rates per capita, and Chávez criticized the doctors who “convince some women if they don’t have big bosoms, they should feel bad.” “It is a painful thing to see girls or women that may not have sufficient resources for housing, to accommodate housing for the children, [to buy] clothes, who are looking to see how to do an operation on the breasts.”