The 5 Most Creative Acts of Insanity by Modern Dictators
It's well known that for every Roosevelt, Mandela, or Bill Pullman who led their nation to greatness, there are other presidents who did pretty much the opposite. We've mocked the insanity of modern dictators before, but you don't have to be a despotic ruler to single-handedly destroy a country in hilarious ways (although it sure helps). Some presidents are just as insane as the Kim Jongs and the Gadhafis out there ... and some are even worse.
Abdala Bucaram Used His Presidency to Advance His Music Career
Abdala Bucaram was somehow elected president of Ecuador in 1996 despite unapologetically sporting the most blatant Hitler mustache since, well, Hitler.
Also known as a douchebag birthmark.
Bucaram was known as "El Loco" ("The Madman"), a nickname he championed himself, both by calling himself that and by acting like a complete lunatic. After being elected, Bucaram celebrated his victory like Bill Clinton secretly wishes he had: by taking to the stage to do his Spanish Elvis impersonation while dancing with scantily clad dancers. No, we're not kidding, and we have the gifs to prove it.
You don't even have to hear the music to know that it's horrible.
You see, Bucaram was an aspiring pop star, as evidenced by his album A Madman in Love ... which he released while still in office. Bucaram took advantage of his side job as president to circulate his demo to his co-workers at a work meeting, and by that we mean that he gave his demo to other presidents at an Ibero-American conference in Chile.
But don't let Bucaram's obvious musical talent fool you: The guy was a proven sleazebag. One of the first things he did after taking office was place his business buddies in high government positions and fill the rest of the cabinet with his own family. He even put his 18-year-old son, Jacobo, in charge of the Ecuadorian customs office. Five months later, Jacobo threw a massive party. The reason? He had just made his first million dollars. By the way, the country was going through an economic crisis at the time.
None of this stopped Bucaram from offering professional coach Diego Maradona $1 million to play one soccer game with him and ordering a presidential banquet in honor of Lorena Bobbitt, the woman who became famous in the '90s for cutting off her husband's dick.
"Soccer and castration! Soccer and castration for everyone!"
The Madman was able to run his show for six months. In February 1997, the Ecuadorian Congress deposed him on the basis of "mental incapacity" of being president (or, like, anything else). After leaving Ecuador in such deep shit that they were later forced to drop their currency and just adopt the U.S. dollar, Bucaram sought political asylum in Panama and still lives there. You can now follow him on Twitter, where you'll find out he still has that healthy obsession with Hitler.
And he's a Cracked reader, apparently! Hola, El Presidente!
Hugo Chavez Spent Millions on the "Penisphone"
What separates Venezuela's Hugo Chavez from other bad leaders is that he had to try really, really hard to ruin his country, which wasn't exactly poor when the guy was elected (years after his hilariously half-assed coup attempt). It was during Chavez's rule that Venezuela earned an unheard of trillion dollars in oil revenue, so how the hell was he supposed to get rid of all of that? Easy: by squandering it on wacky projects like supporting moribund communist regimes, a space program, and a penisphone.
And of course the one you want to hear about is the penisphone.
Usually it's much bigger. It's kinda chilly out here.
Obsessed with having a phone produced entirely in his country, Chavez paid millions to the Chinese to open a factory in Venezuela that imported raw material from China (which sorta defeated the entire point of opening it in Venezuela, but whatever). And because one of the perks of running your own socialist regime is that you can call dibs on naming stuff, Chavez called the phone "The Vergatario." We'd tell you to Google "verga" to find out what it translates to, but we don't want you to lose your job, so we'll just tell you: It's "penis."
Chavez tried to explain that in the Maracaibo region of Venezuela, "verga" can also mean "cool" or "awesome." Too bad that for the other 300 million Spanish speakers in the world it still means "cock." The penisphone had a strong start, raising mightily as initial sales soared high, but it soon lost its momentum and flopped, leaving Chavez all red-faced and making excuses.
His second choice was "Bukkake."
While the world laughed at Chavez, Venezuelans probably didn't think it was that funny: Earlier, when the Colombians had made the outrageous request of asking him to stop his support of the terrorist guerrillas that were murdering/kidnapping thousands of people, Chavez responded by cutting all trade ties with Colombia ... even though Venezuela has to import most of its food from there due to a little thing called "geography." Within days, Venezuela still had a shitload of petrodollars to spend, but no food to buy.
Chavez died of cancer in March 2013, and of course we wrote him a heartfelt obituary. His political party is still in power and, in his memory, the widespread shortages of basic consumer goods are still maintained. Last time we checked, Venezuelan society was nearing a collapse because the shops ran out of toilet paper.
Meanwhile, in the U.S. ...
Colonel Jean-Bedel Bokassa Dressed Like a King from a Disney Cartoon
Colonel Jean-Bedel Bokassa became ruler of Central Africa after overthrowing the president (his cousin) David Dacko in 1966. After spending a decade playing it safe with his fairly straightforward crazy tyrant stunts like feeding political dissidents to his pet crocodiles or (according to rumors) eating them himself, Bokassa decided it was time to really put Central Africa on the map. And so, in 1976, he officially ended the poor Central African Republic and started the mighty Central African Empire. Just like that.
To prove he really meant business, Bokassa renamed himself "Emperor Bokassa I of Central Africa" and organized an insanely expensive crowning ceremony where everything seemed straight out of a Disney movie, from his royal outfit ...
Well? What are you all waiting for? SING!
... to his mile-long cape and his giant golden-eagle-shaped throne:
Pretty sure this was a discarded stage prop from a Queen concert.
The whole ceremony was modeled after the crowning of Napoleon, Bokassa's #1 man-crush. The crowning took a year to prepare and cost the country's freaking annual GDP. In a country where two-thirds of the population lived with less than a dollar per day, Bokassa imported 240 tons of French cuisine for the week-long ceremony, dressed 3,000 guards in lavish uniforms, and even sent some of them to France to learn riding skills for the parade. His crown alone cost $3 million and had rubies, emeralds, and 8,000 diamonds.
Of the expected 2,500 guests, only 600 showed up to witness the economic genocide of the Central African people. Bokassa's response? "They were jealous of me because I had an empire and they didn't." Sure you did, pal.
Wait, is that Fred Sanford?!
French paratroopers overthrew Bokassa in 1979 for being a child-massacring bastard. In a series of bizarre events, Bokassa came back from exile in 1986 to face trial and was sentenced to death but got pardoned and later released by the government. He died peacefully in his mansion in 1996, claiming that he was the 13th apostle and that he had been having secret meetings with the pope. He's survived by his 62 children, but there's yet to be an Emperor Bokassa II of Central Africa.
Bolivia's President Gives the Country Away for a Horse
General Mariano Melgarejo seized power of Bolivia in 1864, lost it a few months later when the previous president returned, and then took it back again by shooting the guy in the fucking face. Melgarejo's despotic rule over Bolivia ticks all the boxes of the insane-Hispanic-dictator trope. Alcoholic? Check. Illiterate? Check. Received a woman begging for her brother on death row and ended up marrying her and naming her brother a general? Double-check.
His entire campaign platform was a picture of his beard.
It wasn't long before Bolivia's neighbors realized that, due to Melgarejo's insanity, the whole country was up for grabs. The Chileans showered him in gifts and Melgarejo responded by naming a Chilean as minister and conceding them favorable border and trade treaties. But it was the Brazilians who hit the big Andean pinata: When the Brazilian envoys met Melgarejo to negotiate a treaty, they presented him with a white stallion as a gift. Melgarejo was so stunned by the horse that he immediately took a map of Bolivia and put one of its hooves on it ... and gave the Brazilians the entire area covered by it.
Melgarejo became so infatuated with the horse, named Holofernes, that he even brought it to parties at the presidential palace, where Holofernes was trained to drink beer and piss on the guests. One day, a courageous assistant told Melgarejo the history of Caligula and his horse consul. Instead of getting the freaking hint, Melgarejo thought the story was awesome and named Holofernes General of Bolivia.
And suddenly, 400 Trojans exited its asshole.
Melgarejo wasn't so popular with all countries, though. While entertaining a British ambassador, Melgarejo forced the guy to drink hot cocoa until he puked and sent him out of town tied to a mule. In response, Queen Victoria declared that Bolivia didn't exist and kicked all Bolivians out of England. That's how much the British hate beverages that aren't tea.
Against all odds, Melgarejo stayed in power for six years before he was finally ousted and later killed in exile by his general (aka the same criminal he spared from the gallows). Bolivia was left in such a state of disarray that a few years later Chile just walked onto the Bolivian coastline and took it without a fight. Because of Melgarejo, a landlocked Bolivia has been begging Chile to return part of that shoreline for the last 100 years.
"We just want water to clean up its petrified shit."
Uganda's Idi Amin Conquers England (in His Imagination)
Idi Amin Dada was a former heavyweight champion who took over Uganda in 1971. We've talked before about how the movie based on him, The Last King of Scotland, is full of shit ... because the reality is even more insane. For starters, Amin's full self-bestowed title was "His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular." We should point out that Uganda never conquered England, as far as we know.
Also, he wasn't pals with Professor Xavier, but he was drinking buddies with Wolverine.
The movie got some things right: Idi Amin did lay claim to the Scottish throne and offered to marry Queen Elizabeth and lead the Commonwealth. His obsession with Scotland led him to wear a Scottish kilt and uniform his soldiers in Scottish regalia. To mock the people who pointed out Uganda's crippling famine, he created the "Save Britain Fund" by taking a truckload of food from starving peasants and offering it to the U.K.
When the British never returned his love, Amin reacted with the fury of a scorned lover: At a diplomatic conference in Uganda, he forced four local British businessmen to carry him around in a sedan chair for a literal interpretation of the white's man burden. He also ordered a Swedish diplomat to follow him with an umbrella because hey, why not.
Yes, at night.
Amin's insanity was so over the top that many commentators thought it was a clever ruse to defuse concern over his more serious corruption and genocide acts in Uganda. However, he didn't fare better in private. This conversation happened during a dinner between Amin and Israeli defense and foreign ministers Moshe Dayan and Abba Eban in Tel Aviv:
They finally got Amin to leave by convincing him Phantom planes are invisible.
With or without Phantoms, in 1978 Amin finally decided to invade Tanzania, a country five times bigger than Uganda. After the predictable Tanzanian victory, Amin fled Uganda for Saudi Arabia, which was compelled to grant him asylum because of Amin being a Muslim. Before his death in 2003, the Saudis were forced to invite him to a handful of events such as a Saudi royal funeral, where he finally learned to behave appropriately.
Well, who fell for that? Of course he went wearing the damned Scottish kilt again.
Javier Yepes is a Central African prince interested in business partners to export toilet paper to Venezuela. You can write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Related Reading: The most ruthless leaders can also be the most ridiculous. Just ask these brutal leaders with hilarious hobbies. But at least those violent dictators all had a taste of power. One Saddam Hussein impersonator only got strong-armed into porn. And if your fascist ambitions haven't been doused enough yet, read about these famous rulers who were crazier than you can imagine. We're talking ban-all-the-beards crazy here, not just gulag crazy.