Skip to comments.No Joke: Comic to Challenge Hugo Chavez
Posted on 07/30/2006 9:06:44 PM PDT by kingattax
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - He became a household name in Venezuela as a standup comedian who aims his wit - rapid-fire, irreverent and loaded with vulgarities - at everyone from his family to the Roman Catholic Church.
So it's little wonder that few in Venezuela are taking him seriously now that he says he will run against Hugo Chavez in December's presidential election.
Benjamin Rausseo, better known as the "Count of Guacharo," announced his presidential bid in the capital of Caracas on Friday as he registered his new party, PIEDRA, which means "rock" in Spanish.
The jovial 45-year-old says he's not intimidated by polls that show Chavez heavily favored for re-election.
"I'm the candidate of all of Venezuela," Rausseo said in an interview with Union Radio earlier this week as he compared himself to Chavez, with whom he shares humble roots and a husky build.
"He's ugly, I'm ugly ... I talk, he talks. But the difference is I live in Venezuela," he quipped, in a gibe at the frequent overseas travels of the Venezuelan leader, who has been on a three-continent tour since last week.
Rausseo, who is also a successful businessman with hotels and other enterprises, grew up poor and left school at 11 to support his family as a shoeshine boy, street vendor and taxi driver.
On Friday he told supporters that even if he cracks jokes on the campaign trail, he's serious about combatting crime, creating jobs, winning the trust of foreign investors and healing a divided nation.
"Venezuelans are happy people, but since Chavez came to power that's changed," he said. "I've never seen Venezuelans so divided. Chavez has picked fights with the whole world and that's dangerous."
Chavez himself has chuckled publicly about rumors he might face the "Count," who has been known to perform in a straw hat, shorts and flip-flops, both before audiences and on TV. The comedian often makes political satire a part of his routine, poking fun at all sides.
An electoral campaign "doesn't have to be a totally serious thing," he said. "There has to be happiness."
But with at least 12 opposition candidates already throwing their hats in the ring to challenge Chavez, pollster Luis Vicente Leon noted a sober aspect to Rausseo's presidential bid.
"It's a symbol of protest," Leon said. "It's the reflection of a serious problem, of a lack of serious leadership in the opposition (to Chavez)."
He became a household name in Venezuela as a standup comedian who aims his wit - rapid-fire, irreverent and loaded with vulgarities - at everyone from his family to the Roman Catholic Church.
I added a clarification.
Considering Chavez is using the oil revenues for bread and circuses, as well as Ak's and Russian Migs, might as well bring in a clown...
They'll need something to laugh about when the SHTF...
....yeah, I'm sure that in a tyrannical dictatorship like Venzuela this guy has an awesome chance of winning in a "fair" election....
Wasn't he in Red Dwarf?
Actually, this is the most dangerous challenge Chavez could have. Autocratic strongmen don't stand up well to satire.
Even if this guy doesn't get a vote in the ballot box, he's going to hurt Chavez, if he's any good.
I'm worried about this comedian.. he might have an "accident" or some Bolivarian Whackjob might gun him down..
I thought the clown was already running the country.
Hey, Cindy Sheehan says the citizens all love him and that is why he won 8 elections.
Looks a little like "Rerun" Fred Berry to me.
I guess the Red Stripe guy was too busy to run.
He would have gotten my vote.
"Hooray Red Stripe"
They already have a clown for a president. A comic would be an improvement.
Yeah - but two coups by oil workers later....
I'm pretty sure the Red Stripe dude is from Jamaica (as is the beer).
But I can dig it, I would vote for the Red Stripe guy too. If he was from Venezuela. And if I had a vote.
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