• Wednesday, Sep 23, 2020
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Woman who hit Venezuelan president with mango rewarded with house

  • Published at 09:33 am April 25th, 2015

A woman who hit President Nicolás Maduro on the head with a mango has been promised a new house for her troubles in a surreal tropical tale that has gone viral in Venezuela. The 52-year-old president was driving a bus through a crowd in the central state of Aragua last weekend when the fruit was thrown at him.

“It says: ‘If you can, call me,’” said Maduro, who once drove a bus for a living, as he displayed the fruit on television. A scrawled message was visible. “Marleny Olivo had a problem with her house. [Officials] called her. She was scared. She couldn’t believe it was true … I’ve approved an apartment for you, Marleny, as part of the Grand Venezuelan Housing Mission.” He also promised that he would eat the mango.

Venezuela’s ever ebullient cybersphere did not miss a beat, with the president’s populist gesture drawing admiration and derision, plus plenty of jokes. “If for a mango they give you apartments, then you know what to do: throw him a pineapple!” quipped Dolar Today, a website that quotes the black market for dollars and is hated by Maduro.

Like his predecessor Hugo Chávez, who died in 2013, Maduro is presented with many petitions during his trips, although most are written on paper rather than hurled at him on fruit. 

In a habit that delights many poor supporters but irritates critics, Maduro – like Chávez – often personally gives away homes, appliances or pensions to low-income Venezuelans. However, lacking Chávez’s charm and good fortune with high oil prices, Maduro’s popularity has plummeted since he took office.

About 28.2% of Venezuelans approved of his management of the country in April, according to pollster Datanalisis. That was up from 24.7% in March, probably due to his campaign against US sanctions on seven government officials, but still nearly half the level when he became president. 

The survey said that 45.8% planned to vote for opposition candidates in this year’s parliamentary election, while only 25% support the ruling Socialists. Shortages of food and medicine caused by strict currency controls have taken a heavy toll, particularly on the poor, who traditionally have supported “Chavismo”. 

“A mango shortage is coming, let’s line up to throw them at Maduro and get a new house!” one Twitter user joked.

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