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Monday, 16 December, 2002, 10:39 GMT
Humour found in Venezuela crisis
Opponent of President Hugo Chavez dances during a rally against Chavez in Caracas
Protesters chanted anti-Chavez slogans
Not all is doom and gloom in Venezuela, where pro and anti-government protesters have taken part in increasingly raucous demonstrations since the general strike began two weeks ago.

As hundreds of thousands took part in a rally in the capital, Caracas, to demand the resignation of President Hugo Chavez, a deadly new weapon was introduced in the battle to bring him down - humour.

I want to make myself appear intelligent, now that it is prohibited

Pedro Leon Zapata

Leading stand-up comedians and satirists used their wit, humour and irony to fire barbs at the much-maligned leader from a platform erected by a major motorway in the city.

A leading anti-government daily, El Universal, says the group of leading comics "animated the multitudes" with their jokes.

One of them, Graterolacho, said with a mournful look: "Chavez is very seriously ill", to great amusement. He also shouted greetings laden with irony to the assembled "great minority of coup plotters".

Spirit

Another, Pedro Leon Zapata, told the crowd: "Intelligence and comedians go hand in fist. I want to make myself appear intelligent, now that it is prohibited."

Finally, they impersonated President Hugo Chavez. He resigned

El Universal

Laureano Marquez addressed his comments to Mr Chavez's supporters, conjuring up the image of Napoleon Bonaparte and proclaiming "the spirit always defeats the sword".

Rolando Salazar made a plea that "nobody should steal our smiles, nobody should steal the happiness of this beautiful country".

El Universal says the troupe did numerous impersonations of leading figures and "finally, they impersonated President Hugo Chavez. He resigned."

As the country's leading newspapers are overwhelmingly anti-government, there have been no reports of corresponding events in the pro-Chavez camp.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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The BBC's Nick Miles reports from Caracas
"The theme of the banners was a familiar one"

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See also:

13 Dec 02 | Americas
11 Dec 02 | Americas
10 Dec 02 | Americas
10 Dec 02 | Americas
29 Nov 02 | Americas
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