For most of the world Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, whose death was announced Tuesday, will be remembered less for what he did and more for what he said. Bombastic and fiery, Chavez rarely missed an opportunity to step into the spotlight or command a stage. Whether on the set of his weekly television show, or at the podium of the U.N. General Assembly, Chavez often spoke from the hip, positing outlandish theories and lambasting world leaders.
In no particular order, here are just a few of some Chavez's headline grabbing comments.
|On Devils and Donkeys|
Chavez spared no words in attacking former U.S. President George W. Bush. He often referred to the president as "Mr. Danger." In an episode of his television show "Hello Mr. President," he told off Bush in English, saying: "You are a donkey." But the insult heard around the world came when in a 2006 address before the U.N. the day after Bush spoke there. "Yesterday, the devil came here. Right here," said Chavez. "Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today."
Chavez's death was announced Tuesday after a lengthy battle with cancer. In a 2011 speech, Chavez noted that in addition to him, the presidents of Argentina and Paraguay had recently been diagnosed with cancer, and accused the U.S. of a plot to kill Latin American leaders. "It's very difficult to explain, even with the law of probabilities, what has been happening to some of us in Latin America," Chavez said. "Would it be so strange that they've invented technology to spread cancer and we won't know about it for 50 years?"
|On Coke Zero|
Chavez didn't seem to have a problem with Coca-Cola, but he banned the drink's zero-calorie cousin. In 2009, he reportedly told the state news agency that Coke Zero "should be withdrawn from circulation to preserve the health of Venezuelans," but he never explained why.
|On the Haiti Earthquake|
If Coke and cancer weren't bad enough American conspiracies, Chavez blamed the United States for testing an "earthquake weapon" that caused the 2010 Haitian earthquake, which led to over 300,000 deaths. He said the U.S. caused the quake because the country had a plan for "occupying Haiti undercover."
If life existed on Mars, Chavez knew who to blame for the planet's current lifeless state, the twin bogeymen of capitalism and imperialism. "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," he said in 2011.
Chavez hated Halloween, calling it a Western, or gringo, custom that was intended to spread terrorism. "It's all a game of terror, very appropriate to gringo culture, to make other countries afraid, make its own people afraid." He stopped short of an outright ban, but in 2005 said "dressing up the family like witches runs contrary to our customs."