International News

Fake Hugo Chavez Photo Actually Shows Mexican Man With Gigantism

How badly do some people want Hugo Chávez to die?  Badly enough to splash a phony photo purportedly portraying the Venezuelan president's last moments on newspapers and websites around the world.

The fake photo was quickly debunked. But who was the poor bastard whose intubation was met with glee from Doral to Madrid?

A doctor has now revealed that the mystery patient is, in fact, a Mexican man with gigantism.


Yes, that's right. A Mexican giant was mistaken for Hugo Chavez.

It somehow seems fitting that Chavez was confused for a man whose hormones have gone haywire.

After all, critics claim Chavez himself has gone haywire, remaking his country -- and much of Latin America -- along socialist lines using billions of dollars worth of oil money. He sings, dances, and speaks for eight hours on live television. And he weeps while disinterring long-dead liberation heroes.

His pituitary gland might be OK, but his ego is certainly enlarged.

In other words, Chavez's brain was a bit peculiar long before a mysterious case of pelvic cancer put the Venezuelan president in a Havana hospital.

There are signs that Hugo is recovering from his illness, however. On Monday, de facto Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro read a letter from Chavez during a Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit.

Signed in red ink and written in Chavez's wandering, grandiose, and poetic style -- at one point, the letter quotes Chilean poet Pablo Neruda -- the document was the first sign of life from the president since he returned to Havana for a fourth operation in December.

"From my Bolivarian heart," Chavez says at the end of the letter, "an infinite and fraternal hug for you all."

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Michael E. Miller was a staff writer at Miami New Times for five years. His work for New Times won many national awards, including back-to-back-to-back Sigma Delta Chi medallions. He now covers local enterprise for the Washington Post.