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The Bullyvarian Revolution: Hugo Chávez’s most memorable insults

It was a key component of Hugo Chávez’s special brand of charisma: the exotic, grandiloquent insult. Chávez was not the only world leader who relished a good — if perhaps, at times, one-sided — fight with los imperialistas, but what made him stand out for so many, including many in the West, was the gusto ...

LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images
LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images

It was a key component of Hugo Chávez’s special brand of charisma: the exotic, grandiloquent insult. Chávez was not the only world leader who relished a good — if perhaps, at times, one-sided — fight with los imperialistas, but what made him stand out for so many, including many in the West, was the gusto with which he flung out bombast like "you are a donkey, Mr. Danger" and "go to hell, Yankee shits!" Everyone remembers that Chávez called George W. Bush the devil. But here, we’ve collected some of the less well-known — but no less colorful — insults from the 14-year reign of the Zinger King of Caracas.

Insult: "Puppy dog of the empire."
Insultee: Mexican President Vicente Fox

Insult: "Pitiyanqui," or "Little Yankee"
Insultees: Counterrevolutionaries, or, as the New York Times put it, "the type of Venezuelan who favors shopping sprees in Miami over paying allegiance to the fatherland."

Insults: "Rancid oligarchs" and "Squealing pigs"
Insultees: Opponents of his 1999 constitutional reforms

Insult: "Devils in Vestments"
Insultee: The Catholic Church hierarchy

Insult: "Low-life pig"
Insultee: Opposition candidate Henrique Capriles

Insult: "The lord of war … one of the dogs of the devil."
Insultee: Donald Rumsfeld

Insult: "Poor ignoramus."
Insultee: Barack Obama

Compared to these, maybe Bush got off easy with the "devil."

Alicia P.Q. Wittmeyer is the Europe editor at Foreign Policy. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and Forbes, among other places. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and master’s degrees from Peking University and the London School of Economics. The P.Q. stands for Ping-Quon.

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