Remembering Hugo Chávez: A Demagogue’s Career in Quotes

The Venezuelan President was known for his vociferous, colorful rhetoric.

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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.

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“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.

36 comments
soycubanoxxx
soycubanoxxx

@NinoskaPerezC @TIMEWorld Ninoska dile a Roura que en cuba todavia hay jentes que no conosen a paya, y muchos mas :-)

neassk
neassk

“@mhoski: | http://t.co/2vqCE6cjw7 // “Yesterday the devil came here. Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today.” Mi favorita

DIF117
DIF117

@DLindstrm Chavez hade knappast rätt i allt, men sett till vilka krafter han utmanade så förtjänar han respekt, trots allt.

stylishmrgordon
stylishmrgordon

@Agailita I wonder what now for Venezuela's oil diplomacy. Any thoughts?

blacktom1961
blacktom1961

@tolmiros_fakos τα ίδια λέει και το bbc. Συντονισμένη δουλειά. Θάψιμο στα γρήγορα και βουρ για τα πετρέλαια

Georgios_Gou
Georgios_Gou

@Ninemesis Οσο γι αυτό,ούτε τον Χίτλερ αγαπούσαν οι "συστημικοί"

gqd3
gqd3

@drpichel con subsidios y regalos a pobres solo incrementó pobreza y miseria.

thayrabarrios
thayrabarrios

@esosatribaldos totalmente de acuerdo, descansaremos de tanta chavacaneria

PGroussac
PGroussac

@TIME Capitalism can withstand much, except a call for equality. America holds a mirror, except...for itself at times.

iopropars
iopropars

@TIME We disapprove this kind of speechs;liars and flatterers as well. In a make believe world,let's hope journalists will fight for truth.

oscar4EDM13
oscar4EDM13

@OccupyTheMob if he were a /b/ tard he would ve been a much better ruler :) he wasnt

anabelvl
anabelvl

Remember RT “@TIME: Remembering Hugo Chávez through his words: 'Don’t mess with me, sir, or you will get stung' | http://t.co/CNMzJ0zJh2

tokai_yukiko
tokai_yukiko

チャベスの仰天発言集面白い QT @TIME Remembering Hugo Chávez through his words: 'Don’t mess with me, sir, or you will get stung' | http://t.co/G6eOVwB1pD

MarMario121
MarMario121

@TIME Hugo Chavez shouldn't be remembered. Like the Castro brothers have destroyed Cuba, Chavez began to destroy Venezuela.

raspLADYcheska
raspLADYcheska

@TIME Hugo Chavez epitomized the golden rule: He who has the gold, rules.

cocokoppel
cocokoppel

@TIME Chavez said: "What is a cancer for me?"

Agailita
Agailita

@stylishmrgordon to be worse for Venezuela.

Agailita
Agailita

@stylishmrgordon If his succesor views and politics are alike to those of Chavez, there is no worry. I have a sense that things are going

LasseByriel
LasseByriel

@TokeTheilade "“Yesterday the devil came here. Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today."

stylishmrgordon
stylishmrgordon

@Agailita I'm sure all eyes now turn to Cuba again. Castro and Chavez shaped Latin American politics and proved a thorn to the west.

stylishmrgordon
stylishmrgordon

@Agailita the rhetoric already appears to be anti America. I suppose that is inevitable, but it doesn't look like bridges will be mended.

Agailita
Agailita

@stylishmrgordon True, Castro time is going end soon, I wonder what the future for Cuba hold.

stylishmrgordon
stylishmrgordon

@Agailita I agree, but then he'd run the risk of ending up like Anwar Sadat did if you abandon set principles too quickly.

Agailita
Agailita

@stylishmrgordon Chavez was truly Ant-America, I am hoping his successor will be much more diplomatic and resort relations with the USA.