Latin America & Caribbean

Hugo Chavez: Memorable moments

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Hugo Chavez was not only capable for speaking for several hours non-stop but he also used colourful, and at times, undiplomatic language, with the United States and its allies often the targets of his ire.

Here is a selection of Mr Chavez's most memorable moments.

The 'Devil' comes

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Media captionChavez: 'Yesterday the president of the United States came here, talking as if he owned the world'

In a dramatic speech to the UN in September 2006, Mr Chavez famously described then US President George W Bush as the "Devil".

"The Devil is right at home. The Devil, the Devil himself, is right in the house.

"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."

No more sulphur

On the same podium in 2009 Mr Chavez cautiously welcomed the new US administration of President Barack Obama. Looking around, he said: "It doesn't smell of sulphur any more. No, it smells of something else. It smells of hope, and you have to have hope in your heart."

George W Bush 'a donkey'

In a nationally televised speech in March 2006, the Venezuelan leader was not short of ways to describe President Bush:

"You are ignoramus, you are a burro, Mr Danger... or to say it to you in my bad English: [switching languages] You are a donkey, Mr Danger. You are a donkey, Mr George W Bush.

"[Returning to Spanish] 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."

'Gringo go home'

In 2007 when Mr Bush visited Uruguay, Mr Chavez told an "anti-imperialist" rally in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires to send a message 65km (40 miles) across the River Plate.

'The little imperial gentleman from the north must be across the river by now. Let's send him a big shout: Gringo go home'.

Don't mess with me, little girl

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Image caption Condoleezza Rice and George W Bush were major targets for Hugo Chavez

Mr Chavez referred to former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as "little girl" on a number of occasions.

In February 2006, Ms Rice described Venezuela as a menace to regional democracy and a "sidekick" of Iran.

During his weekly Sunday broadcast, Mr Chavez replied with a warning:

"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."

He blew a screen kiss to Ms Rice and jokingly referred to her as "Condolence."

Blair 'imperialist pawn'

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Image caption Tony Blair also drew fire from Mr Chavez

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair also came in for verbal abuse. In 2006, Mr Blair urged Venezuela to abide by the rules of the international community. Mr Chavez replied that Mr Blair had flouted those very rules by invading Iraq.

"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."

On Cuba

Hugo Chavez was a long-standing supporter of Cuba and its revolutionary leader Fidel Castro.

Speaking alongside Mr Castro during a visit to Havana in 2005, Mr Chavez said: "[People] have asked me how I can support Fidel [Castro] if he's a dictator. But Cuba doesn't have a dictatorship - it's a revolutionary democracy."

A book for Barack Obama

At the Latin America regional summit in Trinidad and Tobago in 2009, Hugo Chavez presented President Obama with Eduardo Galeano's book, The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent, chronicling exploitation in the region.

Mr Obama later said he assumed the book he was receiving was written by Mr Chavez himself.

A song for Hillary Clinton

In the middle of a speech in June 2010, Mr Chavez began singing a little tune with lyrics that translate to: "I'm not loved by Hillary Clinton... and I don't love her either."

The US Secretary of State had been touring Latin America and criticised Mr Chavez's government during a TV interview in Ecuador. She said the US was open to improving relations with Mr Chavez but that "it doesn't appear that he wants to".

Upsetting the King of Spain

At the close of the 2007 Ibero-American summit in Santiago, Chile, Mr Chavez famously received an ear-bashing from Spain's King Juan Carlos. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero had told Mr Chavez to be more diplomatic in his language, but Mr Chavez interrupted, prompting the king to exclaim: "Why don't you shut up."

Mexican leader berated

Mr Chavez verbally blasted some fellow Latin American leaders. In 2005, he described his then Mexican counterpart, Vicente Fox, as a "puppy dog" for United States imperialism.

Mr Chavez said Mr Fox had, as he put it, been left bleeding by a recent Summit of the Americas.

"It makes one sad to see the sell-out of President Fox, really it makes one sad.

"How sad that the president of a people like the Mexicans lets himself become the puppy dog of the empire."

Undiplomatic row

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Image caption Mr Uribe complained to Mr Chavez about Venezuela's trade embargo on Colombia

During the 2010 Rio Group summit in Mexico, Mr Chavez clashed angrily with his then Colombian counterpart, Alvaro Uribe.

In a private meeting over trade embargoes, Mr Chavez accused Mr Uribe of planning his assassination and threatened to walk out of the summit.

Mr Uribe shouted: "Be a man! These issues are meant to be discussed in these forums. You're brave speaking at a distance, but a coward when it comes to talking face to face."

Mr Chavez replied: "Go to hell."

'The new holocaust'

Also in 2006, Mr Chavez warned that his country would most likely sever links with Israel in protest at its military offensive in Lebanon.

He said he had "no interest" in maintaining relations with Israel, which he accused of committing genocide.

"Israel has gone mad. It's attacking, doing the same thing to the Palestinian and Lebanese people that it has criticised - and with reason - [in the case of] the Holocaust. But this is a new Holocaust."

OAS chief 'quite an idiot'

In 2007 Mr Chavez called on the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Jose Miguel Insulza, to resign after he condemned the Venezuelan government's decision not to renew a private TV station's licence.

"Dr Insulza is quite an idiot, a true idiot. The insipid Dr Insulza should resign from the secretariat of the OAS for daring to play that role."

In praise of Robert Mugabe

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Image caption Mr Chavez hailed Robert Mugabe as a fellow anti-imperialist

At times, Mr Chavez has riled the international community with his praise of controversial heads of state.

In 2004, while Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe was in Venezuela for a summit of the G-15 group of developing nations, Mr Chavez praised him as a "freedom fighter" and presented him with a replica of liberator Simon Bolivar's sword.

"For you who, like Bolivar, took up arms to liberate your people. For you who, like Bolivar, are and will always be a true freedom fighter. [Mugabe] continues, alongside his people, to confront the pretensions of new imperialists."

On Halloween

In 2005, Mr Chavez issued an attack on Halloween, telling his countrymen that it had no place in Venezuelan society.

He used his weekly TV and radio broadcast to caution that the observance is strictly a "gringo," or North American custom.

"What they have implanted here, which is really a gringo custom, is terrorism. They disguise children as witches and wizards, that is contrary to our culture."

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