Photo: Noticias Barquisimeto, retrieved.

When I was little, I often heard a peculiar joke: Hugo Chávez was like a vagina. He had bad hair, thick lips and enormous powers of persuasion.

Although I was too innocent to understand this gag, something was certain: this golpista soldier could convince the masses, within our borders and abroad, of his dictatorial project, sustained for the most part by ignorance, deep pockets… and his sense of humor.

I’m surprised at how people still say Chávez “was cool” and Nicolás Maduro is a cruel dictator, but I guess it was a several-year-long effort: while he expanded his allegedly inclusive policies, the Barinas strongman spent hours on the screen singing, taking pictures with children, telling funny stories from his childhood and even joking about that time he got diarrhea on a mandatory broadcast.

This is why many still remember him as a relatively positive figure, just a bit “crazy” and “funny,” even though he had political prisoners, shut down TV stations, expropriated and bankrupted dozens of national companies, enriched a large number of relatives and friends with State money, armed and trained loyal civilians, and created an unsustainable economic system that has brought utter misery to the nation with the largest oil reserves in the world.

“That’s why he was different,” a chavista neighbor told me once. “Because he was like us, one of the people.”

Maduro jokes during delicate moments in ways that come off as sadistic.

According to Elio Casale, founder and writer of El Chigüire Bipolar, “every strongman fancies himself important and unpredictable, that’s why they don’t take mockery kindly. Because they know that laughter pulls them off their pedestal. Nothing like a good laugh to remind them of their humanity.”

Maduro, a guy with no charisma whatsoever, has tried to play the same cards, but comes across more like a psychopath mocking you while you’re down.

His latest joke, commented on national and international media, had to do with Colombian President Iván Duque. According to Maduro, his counterpart has “the face of an angel,” and he’s “tempted to pinch those chubby cheeks.”

But if it were just that, it’d be fine; Maduro jokes during delicate moments in ways that come off as sadistic. In 2016, when hunger and malnutrition in Venezuela started to reach unprecedented levels, he claimed that the “Maduro diet” gets you “hard” without using “viagra,” a commentary that tells us quite a bit of how his inner machinery works if that’s what he finds funny. During the protests of 2017, he made a rape joke after a protester decided to march naked: “It’s good he didn’t drop the soap!

And, because the guy has a one-track mind, he’s been repeatedly homophobic against the opposition, referring to Henrique Capriles as “la Capriloca,” because chavismo is all for inclusion as long as it isn’t real and all the queers remember their place.

This is politics as a circus, a style championed by Chávez and continued by the rest of his posse.

This is politics as a circus, a style championed by Chávez and continued by the rest of his posse. It’s less and less effective every day because hyperinflation and the collapse of public services in the country has stripped the Revolution’s humor from any charm it could sustain, even in its supporters.

But of course, the circus is only fun when they’re setting it up.

Over these 20 years, the dictatorship’s attacks against humor have been countless. From sanctioning newspapers for publishing satirical covers to ordering TV shows off the air, as in the case of Misión Emilio and Chataing TV in 2014, the revolution takes itself as seriously as only autocracies can. In 1967, the Venezuelan communist poet Alí Lameda, who was working as a translator in North Korea, made an ironic comment regarding Kim Il Sung that costed him seven years in prison, torture and terror. Recently, we had the two firefighters from Mérida who posted a video in which they compared Maduro to a donkey, the kind of stuff that you find outrageously offensive in grade school, yet that almost sent the men to prison for 20 years. Maduro can call himself “Maburro” on TV, but if you dare to do so, you’ll see who gets the last laugh.

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14 COMMENTS

  1. “And, because the guy has a one-track mind, he’s been repeatedly homophobic against the opposition, referring to Henrique Capriles as “la Capriloca,” because chavismo is all for inclusion as long as it isn’t real and all the queers remember their place”

    And the opposition retorted with their own “Mariposon” the very next week and you heard everyone repeating it. Quality comedy right there. Everybody from the MUD to the everyday dude riding their busses loved it.

    Chavez also had a crass, repetitive, one-dimensional humor: The drunk, gozon, wife-beating uncle that “lights up” the kids birthday party with inappropriate comments. He just had deep enough pockets that no one seemed to mind, since he was always buying the whiskey for the parties.

  2. I find “having bad hair and thick lips” as “being like a vagina” is tremendously discriminatory, even racist, but I do wish I had similar “enormous powers of persuasion”.

  3. I always thought that Maduro had the intellect of a middle school boy. Now we have proof positive.

    What’s next for Big Boy Nicky? Perhaps asking his friend Vlad to “smell my finger” after a date night with Cilia? Snapping some 12 year old’s ass with a wet towel in the locker room? Perhaps scratching “MCM sucks dick!” on a bathroom stall?

    Pure class, Nicky

  4. A high school peer- I used to date his sister- has been a follower of Sai Baba, the Indian guru, for over 4 decades. Maduro has been- maybe still is- a follower of Sai Baba. I find that funny. Or absurd. 🙂

  5. Update on Bitcoin so popular among bloggers here at CC.

    Apparently, Bitcoin is dead. $3000/BTC. And going further down.

    So much for the famous free-cost-electricity of abundant Venezuelan crypto-miners. Poor people, they can’t win. Chavez cursed forever and ever.

    And some Venezuelan thought they could circumvent the Forex trade controls.

    I remember someone bragging here in CC that he used BTC to buy cheese, or some other commodity. Or maybe it simply takes more BTC to purchase the cheese.

    Believe it, PETRO is the way to go.

    https://www.techspot.com/amp/news/77889-famed-crypto-millionaire-bitcoin-dead.html

  6. @Jay: I guess then you won’t die of starvation and the vendors accepting it, will be able to survive.

    However, using Dash means that you either mine rewards at no cost (the energy cost is nil) and/or feed the account with USD, which means you took advantage of the various mechanisms to convert Bs using the official/black market ROEs. The excess consumption by miners in Venezuela is a double killer. Some of the warehouses housing mining CPUs can let an entire town without power!

    Either way, I suggest you don’t brag too much on the internet. The potential for success on Dash is apparently their secrecy. But once you fall into the OFAC listings, all the people moving money secretly could be in harms way sooner than later.

    Finally, I personally don’t have any sympathy for people hiding their financial transactions: these are typically drug dealers and money launderers.

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