At an April 7 campaign stop in Puerto Ayacucho, Amazonas department, Venezuelan presidential candidate Nicolás Maduro—now interim president and heir apparent of the late Hugo Chávez—called down a centuries-old indigenous curse on his political opponents. Refering to himself in third person, the candidate said: “The people who vote against Maduro, vote against themselves… If the bourgeoisie win power, health and education will be privatized, and the Indians will be removed from their lands. The Curse of Macarapana will fall on them. But we are not going to allow that to be.” In the Battle of Macarapana, at what is now Parque del Oeste in Caracas, indigenous chieftain Catia was defeated by conquistador Diego de Losada in 1567, and by popular legend laid a curse on the victors.
Maduro donned a traditional indigenous headress for the rally in the heavily indigenous state of Amazonas, where he was backed up on stage by popular songster Alí Primera. As in most of his campaign stops, he invoked the legacy of Chávez, and referred to himself as the late leader’s “son.”
But Maduro’s conservative challenger Henrique Capriles was quick to exploit the invocation of the curse. “Anyone who threatens the people, who tells the people a curse can fall on them, has no right to govern this country,” he said at a rally in the western state of Tachira. Refering to the chavista political elite, he added: “I tell you here, all Venezuelans, the real curse is that little group that we are going to get rid of on April 14.” (Épale, Caracas, BBC News, Reuters, April 7; Bulletin of the Pan American Union, Vol. 49)
On the same day as his Puerto Ayacucho appearance, Maduro also told a reporter from the state network VTV that he believes there is a plot against his life by two former US State Department figures, Otto Reich and Roger Noriega. He charged that the two were involved in arranging his assassination by Salvadoran death squads. (SwissCom, April 7)