Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez died Tuesday from complications related to a near two-year battle with cancer. He was 58. Chávez, a populist firebrand who has defined a whole era of Latin American politics, was not known for holding his tongue. Here are some choice examples of the socialist’s oratory:
“Christopher Columbus was the spearhead of the biggest invasion and genocide ever seen in the history of humanity.” — Chávez, in 2003, on the discovery of the New World.
“I give you a replica of liberator Simon Bolivar’s sword. For you who, like Bolivar, took up arms to liberate your people. For you who, like Bolivar, are and will always be a true freedom fighter. [Mugabe] continues, alongside his people, to confront the pretensions of new imperialists.” — Chávez, speaking about Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, in 2004.
“Don’t mess with me, sir, or you will get stung.” – Chávez, in 2005, when addressing former Mexican President Vicente Fox.
“Terrorism, putting fear into other nations, putting fear into their own people. Families go and begin to disguise their children as witches. This is contrary to our way.” — Chávez, in a weekly broadcast in 2005, inveighing against the American tradition of Halloween.
“Remember, little girl, I’m like the thorn tree that flowers on the plain. I waft my scent to passers-by and prick he who shakes me. Don’t mess with me, Condoleezza. Don’t mess with me, girl.” — Chávez, to then U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in 2006.
“Don’t be shameless, Mr Blair. Don’t be immoral, Mr. Blair. You are one of those who have no morals. You are not one who has the right to criticize anyone about the rules of the international community. You are an imperialist pawn who attempts to curry favor with Danger Bush-Hitler, the number one mass murderer and assassin there is on the planet. Go straight to hell, Mr. Blair.” — Chávez, in 2006, to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
“You are a coward, a killer, a [perpetrator of] genocide, an alcoholic, a drunk, a liar, an immoral person, Mr Danger. You are the worst, Mr. Danger. The worst of this planet… A psychologically sick man, I know it.” — Chávez, about U.S. President George W. Bush, in 2006.
“Capitalism is the way of the devil and exploitation. If you really want to look at things through the eyes of Jesus Christ — who I think was the first socialist — only socialism can really create a genuine society.” — Chávez, on Christ’s economic views, in 2006.
“Yesterday the devil came here. Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today.” — Chávez in 2006, on George W. Bush, who appeared before the U.N. General Assembly at the same podium a day earlier.
“I think it’s imprudent for a king to shout at a president to shut up. Mr. King, we are not going to shut up.” — Chávez, in 2007, regarding a spat with Spain’s King Juan Carlos.
“I chew coca leaves every morning, and look at me!” — Chávez, in 2008, on certain natural health benefits.
“Bombing the brave Libyan people to save them? What a brilliant strategy by the mad empire. Where are the international rights? This is like the caveman era.” — Chávez, in 2011, on the NATO bombing campaign in Libya.
“You are a fraud, Obama,” Chávez said in 2011. “Go and ask many people in Africa, who might have believed in you because of the color of your skin, because your father was from Africa. You are an Afro-descendant, but you are the shame of all those people.”
“I think that Barack Obama – aside from ‘the president’ – is a good guy” — Chávez, a year later.
“Ahmadinejad and I are going into the … basement now to set our sights on Washington and launch cannons and missiles.” — Chávez, referring to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in 2012.