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calendar   Wednesday - February 14, 2007

El Cabeza Gorda

How can you tell if you’re living in a dictatorship? Well, the first sign is when people aren’t allowed to poke fun at fearless leader (El Cabeza Gorda). Forget about using the Jews or gypsies or homosexuals as a warning sign. The comedians are always the first ones to be shipped off to re-education camps.

Now here in the Land Of The Free where nothing is sacrosanct we can poke fun at Dubya all day long. We can even make fun of fearless leader’s kids if we want to (especially if they’re caught buying booze in Austin bars while underage).

Not so in banana republics where the supreme dignity of El Presidente is above any such foolishness and will absolutely not be tolerated under any circumstances whatsoever. Comics have been known to mysteriously disappear.

Take Venzuela, for instance ....

Court Fines Venezuelan Comedian Marquez
CARACAS, Venezuela - February 14, 2007, 4:23 AM EST

imageimageComedian Laureano Marquez has poked fun at politicians for decades without getting into trouble with the law, so he didn’t think twice about writing a tongue-in-cheek newspaper editorial based on a dialogue between President Hugo Chavez and his 9-year-old daughter.

But Marquez and a publishing company that printed the column in the Tal Cual newspaper are now facing fines imposed by a local court for “violating the honor, reputation and private life” of Rosines Chavez Rodriguez, Chavez’s youngest daughter.

Marquez—one of Venezuela’s leading humorists—denies any wrongdoing and argues the $18,600 fine imposed on the Mosca Analfabeta publisher is part of a government initiative in which pro-Chavez prosecutors and judges are being used to silence critics. Marquez must separately pay a fine of a yet-to-be-determined amount.

“I think this government has a concept of society in terms of friends and enemies,” Marquez said in a telephone interview. “Governments that see society like that are very sensitive to criticism, and they don’t tolerate it.” Chavez, a former paratrooper who accuses Venezuela’s privately-owned media of conspiring to topple his government, denies restricting press freedoms.

Marquez insists he meant no harm when he used 9-year-old Rosines as a medium for mocking her father’s decision in 2005 to remake Venezuela’s coat of arms so that a white horse would appear galloping left, not right—an evident metaphor for Chavez’s revolutionary politics.

During a broadcast of his radio and television show, “Hello President,” Chavez told listeners that Rosines said the horse looked strange running to the right while craning its neck in the opposite direction. Within weeks, pro-Chavez lawmakers pushed through a reform changing the coat of arms.

“He considered changing the coat-of-arms due to a suggestion from his daughter,” Marquez said. “I simply wrote her a letter asking her to request another series of changes.” In the editorial, he suggested she ask her father to trade the horse on the new coat of arms for a devoted house pet, such as a Golden Retriever or tortoise—“a good symbol of our sluggishness in everything.”

“Also tell him not to talk about things beyond 2021,” Marquez wrote. “He shouldn’t do it because those of us who don’t agree with him (don’t worry, there are fewer of us every day, according to the official statistics) get desperate, which isn’t good.” Chavez has repeatedly said he wants to continue governing Venezuela until 2021 or longer.

Representatives of the National Council for the Protection of Children and Adolescents urged prosecutors to file charges against Marquez and the publisher, Mosca Analfabeta, justifying the measures as necessary to shield a child from politics-related slander. The council did not ask that Marquez also be prosecuted on criminal charges. “They saw there was a violation of the girl’s rights, so they took measures,” said Antonio Ramos, who heads the council in central Lara state, where Rosines resides.


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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 02/14/2007 at 04:20 PM   
Filed Under: • Latin-America •  
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