CARACAS, Venezuela, Monday April 8, 2013 – The brief campaign ahead of Venezuela’s April 14 presidential election has already produced a plethora of extraordinary remarks and rebuttals by candidates Nicolas Maduro, the country’s acting head of state, and opposition leader Henrique Capriles.
Currently a hot topic of conversation is Maduro’s assertion, illustrated by “wing flapping and chirps,” that the late President Hugo Chavez appeared to him as a "very small bird" to give him his blessing as he prayed.
Numerous media and news agencies have reported Maduro relating that when he went to pray at a chapel alone, a little bird appeared and “started communicating” by whistling.
"Suddenly a bird entered, very small, and turned three times up here," the acting president said, pointing to his head while imitating a fluttering motion.
“[The bird] stood on a wooden beam and began whistling, a nice hissing," he continued, 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 the country’s acting head of state.
While some opposition members suggested that Maduro might benefit from a psychiatric evaluation, their leader’s response was more measured.
"I believe he [Maduro] ate a little bird, because that's what he's got inside his head," Capriles commented.
Adding its voice to the low-tech “tweets,” Spanish daily newspaper El País noted that with stories like this, Maduro didn’t leave doubt of what will be his main offer to voters: the memory of Hugo Chavez.
In a televised show last month, Maduro also stated that the election of Argentinean Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio had “a lot to do” with Chavez’s death.
“I don't know, we know that our ‘commander’ rose to the heights and is face to face with Christ. He must've influenced somehow to convene a South American Pope. Some new hand arrived and Christ said, 'Well, it is the time for South America,’” he told TV audiences.
Commenting further on a relationship between Chavez and Christ, Maduro was quoted as saying: "I don't have any doubt that if any man who walked this earth did what was needed so that Christ the redeemer would give him a seat at his side, it was our redeemer liberator of the 21st century, the comandante Hugo Chavez."
Switching to conspiracies, Maduro is also on record as saying: "In homage and in honour of our commander there is but one destiny: Victory, the victory of the Venezuelan people against the forces of evil, against the forces of darkness.
"I alert all the people about the oligarchy and its obsession to destroy the Bolivarian revolution that our comandante Chavez built, to destroy democracy. ...They have already begun with dollars financed by the imperialist elites.
"I tell you, as chief of state, this campaign of intolerance violates the constitution which guarantees to all Venezuelans their political rights. We must consider actions to put an end to the fascist intolerance of these heirs of Hitler."
This last remark was considered particularly astonishing by many commentators, given that the opposition leader’s mother was a Polish Jew and his maternal grandparents were holocaust survivors. (Source: Huffington Post Latino/AP) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)