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Venezuela's president employs populist — and sometimes vulgar — language.


Chavez saves his best insults for his political opponents. In recent years he has resuscitated colloquialisms to belittle them, variously labeling them "pitiyanquis" and "escualidos."

"Escualido" is a popular term from the llanos or plains of western Venezuela. It is used to describe something that has “little color or quantity,” Bermudez said. “Chavez uses it to point out that the opposition has few followers, but notice how since the opposition has grown to 5 million he no longer uses it as much,” he said.

"Pitiyanqui," which derives from the French word "petit" (small) and the word Yankee, originated in Puerto Rico. It has been used by several Venezuelan leaders to describe the way the country’s political classes dote on the U.S.

Although such expressions have entered the Venezuelan lexicon thanks to Chavez, the opposition has at times embraced them as badges of identity. They have even found their own retorts: After Chavez spent billions of dollars buying arms from Russia and invited its navy to dock at one of Venezuela’s ports, they took to calling him a "pitiruso."

And the phone? It will be manufactured using Chinese technology and will feature a camera, radio and MP3 player. At a retail price of just $14, its backers claim its the cheapest in the world.  It will be launched, appropriately, on Mother’s Day.

More GlobalPost dispatches from Venezuela:

Hugo Chavez is rewriting history

The "E" word: Venezuela and the return of expropriation

Venezuela's media is caught in a vicious circle