The Spread of Chavezism


Hugo Chavez on George W. Bush, September 2006:

"Yesterday, the Devil came here. Right here. Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today," Chavez said, blessing himself with the sign of the cross, and folding his hands as if in prayer and glancing heavenward.

Six months later, as Bush prepares a trip to Guatemala:

"That a person like (Bush), with the persecution of our migrant brothers in the United States, with the wars he has provoked, is going to walk in our sacred lands, is an offense for the Mayan people and their culture," Juan Tiney, the director of a Mayan nongovernmental organization with close ties to Mayan religious and political leaders, said Thursday….

Tiney said the "spirit guides of the Mayan community" decided it would be necessary to cleanse the sacred site of "bad spirits" after Bush's visit so that their ancestors could rest in peace.

A serious ceremony or a media-savvy put-on? Either way, it'll probably get more press up north than the more conventional protests greeting the president in Brazil and Colombia. (For example: You'll note that I didn't bother to blog the more conventional protests greeting the president in Brazil and Colombia.)

In other religious news, Malaysian monks are facing a crisis of conscience:

Buddhist monks, who are bound by faith to nonviolence, are grappling with how to rid a temple of a severe ant infestation without killing the insects.

Stinging red ants have plagued the Hong Hock See Temple in northern Penang state for a year, causing one worshipper to be bitten so badly last month that he had to receive hospital treatment, said Elma Lin, a temple volunteer worker.

A temple disciple tried using a vacuum cleaner to gather up the ants before freeing them in a nearby forest, but the method failed to purge the insects, Lin said.

Question: I'm no theologian, but isn't that kind of violent too?

The temple's chief monk, Boon Keng, was quoted by The Star newspaper as saying that the monks had to "respect other living things" in the temple.

"When an ant drops on you, you must not flick it away or blow on it," he told the newspaper. "If you do, it will bite to hold on. You just have to shake it off."

So maybe it's only one-on-one anti-ant violence that's prohibited, and you're allowed to use a weapon of mass destruction like a vacuum cleaner? And suppose President Bush visits: Do you have to shake off the evil spirits individually, or can you do a general cleansing? Can you at least spray some Lysol to get rid of that sulfuric smell? Someone help me out here.