April 14, 2013— -- When Venezuelan interim president Nicolás Maduro declared last week that deceased President Hugo Chávez appeared to him in the form of a bird, many thought he was losing it.
"I felt his spirit blessing us," said Maduro during the televised address. He even took to whistling like a bird as a form of war cry in subsequent public appearances.
Social media reacted with force, mocking him to the point that his advisers asked him to stop whistling like that during rallies.
But the defiant Maduro wouldn't give the bird theme up, and he showed up at an April 12th rally wearing a straw hat with a plastic bird on top of it-- anything to keep Chávez's memory alive that can help him win the elections, which are taking place today, Sunday April 14th.
It seems that Latin American autocrats like their birds. Or they desperately cling to symbols for their political objectives.
In a 2002 rally late President Hugo Chávez appeared with a beret-wearing parrot named Simon Bolivar (named after the South American liberator and Chavez's role model.)
Check out The Jack and Alex Show they talk to Chávez's parrot.
And four decades earlier, a white dove landed on then 32-year-old Fidel Castro during his very first televised address in 1959.
The crowd was ecstatic and erupted in cheers. It was a good omen and many believed that they were in the presence of the island's savior.
However, the serendipity of this dove landing remains a mystery. It's been a long-standing rumor that this was planned, and that a man called Conte Aguero, now exiled in Miami, trained doves to land on Castro's shoulder during that rally.
Even to this day the mistery remains.
Any other autocrats we're missing?