It’s amazing how little of the truly delicious ridiculousness spouted by the regime’s members gets noticed abroad, isn’t it? Since the death of Chávez, whose personal musings regarding, say, Martian economics or eau de azufre, would sporadically find their way into international news, today equally delectable morsels cooked up by his heirs are too often overlooked.
Perhaps this is unavoidable. Given the gravity of the situation in Venezuela, it may be that sprinkling lunatic quotes on avian lactation seems inappropriate in tragic reports of bloodshed and mayhem. I suppose the need to maintain a neutral tone and to provide sufficient contextualizing information within a limited space, likely also plays a role.
That said, as the international community seems to be finally coming to appreciate the calamitous situation unfolding in Venezuela, there at last seems to be some international discussion about the competence, if not the legitimacy, of the Bolivarian Revolution. And in this respect, furtive, contradictory or deranged statements from the leadership – particularly ones implying violence – are part of the conversation.
With this in mind, here are a few of my very favorite quotes from the regime and its allies during this recent crisis. Many of these will already be common knowledge to Venezuelans, yet it would be wonderful to see them become more commonly discussed abroad. I’ve only listed my top eight, to start, but I’d love to see some new nominations from readers in the comments section…
- President Nicolás Maduro to Henrique Capriles and his supporters. February 16th, 2014: “[you have been]breastfeeding crows that will now peck out your eyes for your cowardice.”
- President Nicolás Maduro speaking about Leopoldo Lopez’ arrest during a speech on February 19th, 2014: “And I said, ‘Send him to jail,’ and that’s what happened and that’s what will happen with all of the fascists.”
- Eliás Jaua, Venezuelan Chancellor for the Exterior, discussing firearm deaths during protests at an interview with CNN Español on February 14th, 2014: “In fact, the Venezuelan police did not even carry weapons, the Bolivarian National Police and the Public Order Brigades are completely unarmed.”
- Hector Rodríguez, Minister of Education, quoted on February 25th: “The goal here is not to take people out of poverty, and into the middle class, so that they will then aspire to be ‘escualidos.’” — Escualidos being a derogatory term for “opposition member”, denoting skinny-armed bourgeoisie.
- Jose Luis García Carneiro, oficialista Governor of Vargas, quoted in a statement on the protests, February 24th:“Only five municipalities (out of 335) are responsible for this country’s violence.”
- Diosdado Cabello, head of the Venezuelan National Assembly, February 20th, 2014, over Twitter: “It’s amazing the amount of money that the United States is spending to topple the Bolivarian Revolution with artists, media, henchmen, paramilitaries, assassins, etc.”
- José Vielma Mora, oficialista Governor of Táchira, discussing the current government crackdown in his own State, particularly San Cristobal, its capital. On the radio station ONDA, February 24th, 2014. “It truly upsets me, the low flybys by military aircraft, that was an unacceptable excess… I am not part of any ‘regime’ I was elected by the people of Táchira.” – In the same discussion he likewise seemed to voice disagreement with people being held for “political issues” including Iván Simonovis and Leopoldo López.
- José Vielma Mora, still Governor of Táchira, clarifying his positions later the same day, ostensibly after having a chat with some of the folks above his paygrade: “There are terrorists in Táchira from abroad, hired and paid for. This isn’t normal, the people of Táchira don’t light fires… Civil order remains intact under the democratic rule of Nicolás Maduro and myself… [The opposition] want to provoke repression but that is not going to happen… I am a true Chavista, to the very bottom of my heart – it offends me that anyone would doubt it.”
- BONUS: The entire music video for “Gotas de Lluvia” as interpreted by National Assembly chief Diosdado Cabello’s daughter, Daniella Cabello, and dedicated to Hugo Chávez. (OK, not super germane to the topic at hand but really amazing, in an anthropological sense.) Representative quote: “It makes me sad sometimes, not to see you anymore. Then I think of all I’ve learned. How I follow you in your giant footsteps. And I look on ahead, my Comandante.” Such filial piety, that one, she’ll make a great “first daughter” someday soon.