John OtisMarch 7, 2013 13:13
BOGOTA — During his first presidential campaign in 1998, I sat across from Hugo Chavez in a twin-engine Cessna. As we recorded an interview, the candidate tried to gulp down a quick lunch before landing for his next rally. Suddenly, the plane hit turbulence, his plate flew into the air and food was all over the floor. Unfazed, Chavez waved off the flight attendant, got down on his knees and began sweeping up the mess with his hands. That was my first encounter with Chavez and it provided a vivid example of why, for journalists, he was the most intriguing Latin American politician of his era.