For those who associate diplomacy with tact, Hugo Chavez must have come as a rude awakening. Since his election to the presidency of Venezuela in 1999, Chavez earned a reputation for brash, often confounding remarks against the US, capitalism, and a bevy of other topics. Here's a look back at some of Chavez's strangest remarks.
The Devil at the UN
Chavez infamously referred to US President George W. Bush as the devil in a 2006 address to the UN: "And the Devil came here yesterday. Yesterday the Devil came here. Right here. [crosses himself] And it smells of sulphur still today. Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the Devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world. Truly. As the owner of the world."
Tony Blair as an imperial pawn
After UK Prime Minister Tony Blair advised Chavez to abide by international law and avoid close relations with Cuba, the Venezuelan president hit back with this: "Don't be shameless, Mr Blair. Don't be immoral, Mr Blair. You are one of those who have no morals. You are not one who has the right to criticise anyone about the rules of the international community. You are an imperialist pawn who attempts to curry favour with Danger Bush-Hitler, the number one mass murderer and assassin there is on the planet. Go straight to hell, Mr Blair."
A Ban on Halloween?
In 2005, Chavez was quick to denounce Halloween, a holiday he viewed as another example of US culture's invasion of South America: "Families go and begin to disguise their children as witches. This is contrary to our way. [The US is] putting fear into other nations, putting fear into their own people."
Capitalism destroyed life on Mars
On World Water Day in 2011, Chavez marked the occasion by noting the destructive potential of capitalism: "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. Careful! Here on planet Earth where hundreds of years ago or less there were great forests, now there are deserts. Where there were rivers, there are deserts."
Condoleeza Rice as a "Little Missy"
After US officials voiced protest over Chavez's bid to increase his lawmaking powers, he responded with an anti-US tirade on his TV and radio program: ""What does the empire want? Condoleezza said it. How are you? You’ve forgotten me, missy ... Condoleezza said it clearly, it’s about creating a new geopolitical map in the Middle East." Chavez had a history of provoking former Secretary of State Rice, saying this of her the previous year: "Remember, little girl, I'm like the thorn tree that flowers on the plain. I waft my scent to passers-by and prick he who shakes me. Don't mess with me, Condoleezza. Don't mess with me, girl."
Haiti Earthquake as a covert US attack and occupation
After initially saying the 2010 Haiti earthquake was a result of a secretive US weapons test, Chavez questioned the nature of the country's relief effort: ""I read that 3,000 soldiers are arriving, Marines armed as if they were going to war. There is not a shortage of guns there, my God. Doctors, medicine, fuel, field hospitals, that's what the United States should send. They are occupying Haiti undercover... on top of that, you don't see them in the streets. Are they picking up bodies? ... Are they looking for the injured? You don't see them. I haven't seen them. Where are they?"
Nukes in Venezuela
Chavez is notorious for the controversial company he keeps. During a meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Chavez joked with his friend about the growing global concern over Iran's nuclear program. Referring to the lawn in front of his palace, Chavez said ""that hill will open up and a big atomic bomb will come out,"" drawing laughs from the Iranian president. Later that day he said ""the imperialist spokesmen say ... Ahmadinejad and I are going into the Miraflores basement now to set our sights on Washington and launch cannons and missiles. ... It's laughable."
US causing South American cancer
During a speech to the military in 2011, Chavez speculated about the source of his recent cancer diagnosis and the strange prevalence of the disease in several recent South 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. Would it be so strange that [the US has] invented technology to spread cancer and we won't know about it for 50 years?"
Venezuela's breast implant craze is "monstrous"
Commenting on the surging popularity of plastic surgery in Venezuela in 2011, Chavez denounced breast implants as a shameful practice that reflects misplaced values amongs the people: "[doctors should not] convince some women that if they don't have some big bosoms, they should feel bad. It is painful to see girls or women that may not have sufficient resources for housing, to accommodate housing for the children, [to buy] clothes, who are looking to see how to do an operation on the breasts." Chavez went on to say the whole procedure was a "monstrous thing."
The "freedom fighter" Robert Mugabe
The Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe, roundly denounced for his human rights abuses, failing economic policy, and corrupt administration, was met with a quite different opinion from Chavez. At a 2004 G-15 summit meeting, Chavez presented Mugabe with a ceremonial sword in honor of the African head of state's strongly principled leadership in the face of Western political influence, saying "I give you a replica of liberator Simon Bolívar’s sword. For you, like Bolívar, took up arms to liberate your people. For you, who, like Bolívar, are and will always be a true freedom fighter. [Mugabe] continues, alongside his people, to confront the pretensions of new imperialists."
Calling Bush a "drunkard" and a "donkey"
Chavez's harsh criticism of US President George W. Bush was strong even before his "devil" comments. Just a few months before his infamous UN address, the leader denounced Bush after learning of a White House document that branded Chavez as a "demagogue." Speaking in English briefly in a weekly TV address to the Venezuela, Chavez said: "you are a donkey, Mr. Bush. You're an alcoholic Mr. Danger, or rather, you're a drunkard." After switching back to Spanish, Chavez continued to address the former President by a strange nickname, "you are a coward, a killer, a [perpetrator of] genocide, an alcoholic, a drunk, a liar, an immoral person, Mr. Danger. You are the worst, Mr. Danger. The worst of this planet... A psychologically sick man, I know it."