By Carlos Camacho
CARACAS -- To the outrage of many in Venezuela, embattled President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday jokes about the shortages and hardship under his administration.
“The Maduro diet. Makes you hard without needing any Viagra,” said Maduro Sunday, laughing, during an exchange with the audience.ROOT OF A JOKE
Maduro had asked a man in the audience, “why are you so skinny?” To which several people in the audience responded, on live television: “That’s the Maduro diet!” The now famous blue-pilled response by Maduro came then, as the President tried to laugh away the comment.
“The Maduro diet” has become the Venezuelan default explanation for any sudden illness or loss of weight. According to a recent poll by the three largest universities, UCV, USB and UCAB, there’s an acute shortage in medicines and most Venezuelans only take one meal a day.
The President’s attempt to try and “own” the Maduro diet, however, fell flat, with writer Leonardo Padron commenting on Monday: “Every Venezuelan that wakes up today and sees their fridge empty and is troubled by this should think about Maduro’s joke and ‘the diet that makes you hard’.”
Besides long lines for food and medicine, Venezuela is enduring a fierce anti-opposition crackdown, which started before the massive September 1st anti-Maduro protest in Caracas and continued even more fiercely after the President was assaulted by protesting, pot-banging inhabitants of Villa Rosa, a poor township in Margarita island on September the 2nd.
Human-rights NGO’s and opposition politicians say that not only have 150 protesters and opposition politicians arrested and/or harassed (including the mayor of the municipality in Margarita that includes Villa Rosa as well as the first journalist to post video of the incident), but that some inhabitants of government housing were evicted after the protest as well.FAUX PAS ON TOP OF FAUX PAS
Maduro’s jokes came during the same speech in which the President half-heartedly apologized for insulting the deceased mother of opposition leader Henry Ramos Allup days ago. "Well, and what about him? He has insulted women too," Maduro said of Ramos, who has accused the female head of the CNE electoral authority of slowing down the recall against the President which started back in April and still hasn't happened yet.
Armed only with popularity in the single digits, Maduro is trying to stop a recall petition that is about to enter the second of three stages.
Also on Monday, a former high-level official of the Hugo Chavez administration, journalist Vladimir Villegas, took exception with Maduro’s habits of insulting critics and rejecting criticism as just more “conspiracies” coming from “fascists.”
“Mr President, that practice of seeing in every protest or in every complaint a conspiracy, or in every Venezuelan displeased with food lines or street crime a traitor to the fatherland does not lead to anything good, even less so if you have the responsibility to direct a country,” said journalist Vladimir Villegas in an editorial before his interview show “Vladimir a la una” on the all-news Globovision television network, which has been owned by friends of the government since 2013. “If you are so concerned with fascism, why don’t you extricate yourself from everything that resembles it?” continued Villegas before criticizing the government’s ongoing crackdown against opposition figures.