Wednesday , July 8 2015
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‘Vete al inferno’, John Key ignores Chavez’s funeral as political leaders gather to bury the ‘king of insults’

John Key tour - Colombia 

If Hugo Chavez was in John Key ‘s place he’d bellow ‘Vete al inferno’ if asked if he planned to go to the funeral of a political leader who was his polar opposite.

He’s not of course. Chavez is dead. Finally. Succumbed to cancer. Poisoned by the Americans says Vice President Nicolás Maduro. As he would.

Let’s face it the only conceivable reason why anyone would think of asking Key, (in the first place) if he planned to go to the funeral is because he is in the zone. In Bogota, with the next date on his Latin American dance card – Chile’s Sebastian Pinera – post-poning their meeting for one day while he joins other Latin American leaders at Friday’s state funeral.

Pity. A Venezuelan state funeral would introduce a new element of political theatricality to Key’s Latin American swing.

What Key did say when the traveling press corps posed its question was this: “It’s obviously a very sad moment for Venezuela and for the people of Venezuela”… “I’m sure they will miss him greatly and obviously our condolences go to the Chavez family and the people of Venezuela”…”There was obviously a very acrimonious relationship there [with the US] and he was no fan of Westernised capitalism, that’s for sure…it’s pretty obvious where he was standing. But each country to their own”…”New Zealand had a pretty strong trading relationship with Venezuela, we sell a lot of milk powder over there, but not much really in the form of a political relationship.”

Key was simply being alert to the Latin American sensibility rather than telling it straight about how the West viewed Chavez’s monomaniacal policies.

Plenty of other world leaders will dish out

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the political bromides. Anodyne. Bland. Devoid of punch. Pity they don’t say what they really think about Chavez. The socialist revolutionary would have had the insults flying.

Foreign Policy’s article – The Bullyvarian Revolution: Hugo Chavez’s most memorable insults – sheds light on the former Venezuelan leader’s personality.

Said Foreign Policy: It was a key component of Hugo Chávez’s special brand of charisma: the exotic, grandiloquent insult. Chávez was not the only world leader who relished a good — if perhaps, at times, one-sided — fight with los imperialistas, but what made him stand out for so many, including many in the West, was the gusto with which he flung out bombast like “you are a donkey, Mr. Danger” and “go to hell, Yankee shits!” Everyone remembers that Chávez called George W. Bush the devil. But here, we’ve collected some of the less well-known — but no less colorful — insults from the 14-year reign of the Zinger King of Caracas.”

Insult: “Puppy dog of the empire.” Insultee: Mexican President Vicente Fox

Insult: “Pitiyanqui,” or “Little Yankee” Insultees: Counterrevolutionaries, or, as the New York Times put it, “the type of Venezuelan who favors shopping sprees in Miami over paying allegiance to the fatherland.”

Insults: “Rancid oligarchs” and “Squealing pigsInsultees: Opponents of his 1999 constitutional reforms

Insult: “Devils in VestmentsInsultee: The Catholic Church hierarchy

Insult: “The lord of war … one of the dogs of the devil.” Insultee: Donald Rumsfeld

Insult: “Poor ignoramus.” Insultee: Barack Obama

Ramp it up, Prime Minister. You’re in Latin America, you know.

 

About Fran O'Sullivan

Fran O’Sullivan is Managing Director of NZ INC. She is a former editor of the National Business Review and a prominent columnist for the New Zealand Herald, where she writes on business, politics, and international affairs, and manages the annual high-profile Mood of the Boardroom project. Fran took up the position of Editorial Director – Business for NZME in April 2015.

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