A comedian is waging a social media war against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and inviting others to join him by participating in the latest internet challenge.
It's called the “Maduro Challenge,” and it was started this week by Venezuelan funnyman Ricardo Del Bufalo. It basically consists of filming yourself on social media screaming the president's name, followed by “coño de tu madre,” a Venezuelan insult that translates roughly as "motherf**ker."
Del Bufalo says the Maduro Challenge is a way for Venezuelans to let off steam amid the country's economic and social unraveling.
“There is a lot of anger and indignation in Venezuela right now,” Del Bufalo told Fusion. “Each day you hear more people cursing Maduro in the street. So by making this a challenge, I'm inviting people to lose their fear of doing this in public.”
Venezuela's government recently left thousands of people stuck with worthless piles of cash when it suddenly decided to withdraw the country's most-used bill from circulation.
Maduro said he took the decision to fight “mafia” groups siphoning off the country's cash supply. But it was his fellow countrymen who suffered most from the bizarre currency recall, resulting in long bank lines of people trying to trade in their money. The panic also led to riots and at least 3 deaths and 250 arrests after banks stopped taking 100 bolivar notes.
Maduro has since backpedaled on his decision and agreed to extend the use of the 100 bolivar bills until January. But the president's flip-flop has only contributed to the confusion and instability in Venezuela, and left people aghast with his capacity for arbitrary decisions.
“It's not hard to do comedy here,” Del Bufalo told me in a Twitter interview from Caracas. “We have so many absurd things happening here that there's plenty to talk about.”
The comic says that his Maduro Challenge hasn't quite set Venezuelan social media on fire yet (fewer than a dozen people have posted videos of it in its first day), but then again most Venezuelans have more important things to worry about.
I asked Del Bufalo if a similar internet challenge might work with in the U.S. to blow off steam over Trump. “Perhaps for him the right insult would be asshole,” the comedian quipped.
The Maduro Challenge is facing some serious competition on Venezuelan social media, which is currently flooded with images of vandalized stores, anti-government protests, and reactions to the latest surprise announcements about Venezuela's economic crisis. But Del Bufalo is holding out hope that his social media experiment will be a late bloomer.
“People might be focused on other things right now, but it's good for them to know the challenge exists,” the comic said. “That way when they think about Maduro in their daily life, perhaps they will be encouraged to record their thoughts and publish them.”
Manuel Rueda is a correspondent for Fusion, covering Mexico and South America. He travels from donkey festivals, to salsa clubs to steamy places with cartel activity.