at least not intentionally…
The Wall Street Journal had an article today called Chavez’s Folksy Style Proves to Be a Tough Act to Follow (sadly gated). In it, they talk about how Nicolás Maduro has been unable to follow in Chavez’s footsteps in terms of connecting with the public with a “folksy, often ribald, sense of humor.” He has made a couple of stabs at humor in public rallies but they have mostly fallen flat.
Love him or hate him, you have to admit that Chavez was excellent copy. He was always good for a quote (or song, dance, joke, etc). Maduro only seems able to be unintentionally funny.
My favorite bit of funny is when Maduro claimed that Chavez came to him in the form of a very small bird. While praying alone at a chapel, a little bird appeared and “started communicating” by whistling at him. Here is his awesome description:
“Suddenly a bird entered, very small, and turned three times up here,” he said, pointing to his head while imitating the flutter. [The bird] stood on a wooden beam and began whistling, a nice hissing,” he said imitating the sound. “Then I stared at him and whistled back… The bird looked strange at me, right? He whistled for a little while, flew around and left, and I felt the spirit of [Chavez],” said Maduro. I felt him there as though he were giving us a blessing, saying to us: ‘Today the battle begins. Onwards to victory. You have our blessing.”
Even if you don’t speak Spanish, I think you will get a kick out of Maduro recounting the story. Here is a link to the video from Fausta’s blog, which is definitely worth reading if you are interested in Venezuela.
There is also an awesome slide show on the little bird issue (from maspormas). Here is one of my favorites:
And of course there is a lot more crazy than just this. In a televised speech, he has claimed that the former president of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, is trying to kill him: “Uribe is behind a plot to kill me. Uribe is a killer. I have enough evidence of who is conspiring, and there are sectors of the Venezuelan right that are involved.” The current Colombian president has called Maduro “crazy.”
As Fausta points out (and Alma Guillermoprieto alludes to in her excellent article on post-Chavez machinations), “Rather than worrying about Uribe, Maduro ought to keep en eye on Diosdado, or he may get his wish sooner than he thinks.”
Of course, all of this would be a lot more funny if he wasn’t actually in charge of the country.