Hugo Chávez’s death leaves Venezuela in a state of uncertainty.
The Venezuelan constitution mandates elections within 30 days, and the likely candidates are Vice President Nicolás Maduro, whom Chávez designated as a successor, and Henrique Capriles Radonski, who lost the last presidential election to Chávez. The New York Times reports that in a televised speech, Maduro urged Venezuelans to stay united and continued the claims of United States’ interference and attempted destabilization, also claiming that the United States had managed to “damage the commander’s health.” It is possible that Maduro is trying to strengthen his domestic image and call upon the political base that Chávez cultivated so well—the formerly disenfranchised and the poor.
It’s certain that Chávez leaves behind an interesting legacy. He created political fervor, he increased the level of polarization in Venezuela, and he cultivated a revolutionary image, constantly trying to prove that alternatives existed to a Washington-dominated world. His other legacy is his outrageous, often offensive sayings—a staple of high school debate speeches. Here are a few of the top ones:
- On life on Mars: “I have always said, heard, that it would not be strange that there had been civilization on Mars, but maybe capitalism arrived there, imperialism arrived and finished off the planet.”
- On cancer as a weapon: “Would it be so strange that they’ve invented technology to spread cancer and we won’t know about it for 50 years?”
- On President Obama: “You are a clown, a clown. Leave us in peace”
- On President Bush: “The devil came here yesterday… It still smells of sulphur today”
- And, of course, On Halloween: “Families go and begin to disguise their children as witches. This is contrary to our way.”