Change is daunting. Change is difficult. It’s as good as a holiday, and mostly it’s for the better. If you’re looking for a change let’s face it: you probably need it. And if that change is becoming an expat in Panama, it’s a big one. It needs a lot of consideration. It’s stressful.
But the great thing is, you’re moving to somewhere which isn’t. To make the journey (pun intended) a little more light-hearted, today we bring you the list of the world’s Top Ten Dumbest Dictators, to show you what some countries dealt with before they realised that they too needed a change!
While I know this is probably not-quite-PC (because he died recently) but a life like his cannot go by without admiring that which he did. The late President of Venzuela, Chávez ruled from 1999. And ruled he most certainly did.
My personal favourite jaunt of his was when he suddenly realised that Simon Bolivar (who died in 1830 of tuberculosis) did not actually die from TB but had, in fact, been assassinated. Now everybody and their sister has a small conspirator inside them, so maybe you’re saying ‘so what?’.
So what indeed…He decided the matter needed to be solved and ordered Bolivar’s remains to be exhumed. He then held a live Twitter feed throughout the exhumation (which he was watching) and tweeted ‘Bolivar Lives!’. He also asked Jesus Christ to bring him back to life (unfortunately, Christ didn’t seem to have much of a sense of humour on that one).
A level-headed man, Chávez logically worked out that the Haiti earthquake of 2010 was deliberately caused by a U.S. earthquake machine. This said by a member of the UN…
His supporters, ever loyal, are grieving his death (and will continue to do so until someone exhumes him back to life!).
Meet Romania’s 1965 communist dictator. A romantic man at heart, Ceausescu forced all Romanian scientists to include his illiterate wife’s name in their research. While this was obviously not grand enough of a gesture, he decided to build a palace in the capital. To fund this project (on which 700 architects and 20,000 workers were to work at all hours of the day) he exported all of the country’s agricultural and industrial production.
It took his people 24 years to decide that they didn’t want a leader that lead with his heart. They eliminated that problem: and executed the man (his sceptre still in hand!).
Good old Nero was a real mommy’s boy. I mean, the woman poisoned Emperor Claudius so that her son would become emperor. In true mommy’s boy fashion, he took after her. And over her. I don’t mean literally, because yes he technically was ruling over her, but over her life. He decided that her time was up.
So the next thing on his mind was how to do it. A creative soul, he rigged a chair with a weight to flatten her to death. And failed. Then he rigged a ship to sink, but she swam safely to shore. A sore loser, he dropped the creativity out the window (not rigged) and hired an assassin to get the job done. And that was that.
Surprisingly he became rather unpopular so he committed suicide leaving us all with the (humorous, but not to him) words: ‘what an artist dies with me’.
Moral of the story? No one dies when you’re too creative at it.
The best thing I can say about this man is that he had great pearly whites. His dentist must have benefited so well from this particular dictator, who’s mission was to make beautiful North Korea ugly by erecting over 3000 monuments of himself. He also made it mandatory for all North Koreans to wear a badge of him (do you think they had the dentist’s number on the back? I hope so).
He liked to refer to himself as the ‘Sun of the Nation’. I’m sure that was also teeth-related.
Bokassa started off well. He was the president of the Central African Republic in 1966 (thank the French!). He was a good leader, and at some point this got to his head.
Literally, he went mad. He decided to create the Central African Empire to make himself Emperor Bokassa. No Emperor is complete without a ceremony, of course, which he modelled on the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte. On this ceremony, he splurged a third of the national budget (yes, nearly $30 million!) and sent the country into bankruptcy.
Because of this bankruptcy children started to complain about the expensive school uniforms that they had to buy with his face on them. He sent them to jail, and had 100 children killed. Then, and only then, did the French decide to remove him from power.
Jammeh is still alive and kicking and you’ll find him kicking along in Gambia, if you’re looking for a miracle healer, that is. This dictator alleges that he’s found a cure for AIDS. Yes. A cure. And if you don’t believe it, he has a governmental agency dedicated to the cause: meet PTPG (Presidential Treatment Programme Group). From them, you can get a list of the local herbs that will cure this incurable disease!
Some emperors lead by example. Some don’t. Caligula, the Roman Emperor, was one such man. For starters, he made his sister his mistress and then ordered Rome to weeks of mourning when she died. That was, no laughing and no bathing (for Pete’s Sake. How could you even think of bodily hygiene when your incestial Emperor is sad?).
He never loved another woman since…and so moved swiftly on. To horses. Yes. Caligula loved his horse. He treated him, Incitatus, like a mistress: he bought him royal clothing and treasures. He even made him into senator and later elevated him to the position of consul! (Yes. Rome had a Vice-President horse. Deal with it.)
Among his quirks was the time he declared war on Poseidon, the sea god. He had his soldiers collect seashells from the beach as their form of attack.
Still dealing with it? His guards couldn’t, and killed Caligula.
Niyazov was the dictator of Turkmenistan from 1990 until his death in 2006. If you think his name is a tongue-twister you’d have your work cut out for you in Turkmenistan, because he renamed the month of January after himself, and ‘bread’ after his mother. His personal best was when he built an ice palace (an ice palace in his desert capital, that is)! He banned beards, he banned the practise of lip-syncing (sorry Beyoncé!) and he banned the chewing of tobacco (encouraging citizens to chew bones instead – better for your teeth you know).
The height of his career was when he wrote his book The Ruhnama (‘Book of the Soul’) – about how to live life. He said it needed equal respect as that of the Quaran. The difference between the Ruhnama and the Quaran, however, was that if you read the Ruhnama three times you would automatically go straight to heaven! To illustrate what it meant to go straight to heaven he launched a copy of the book into space in 2005.
Ne Win, was new in (see what I did there?) power in Burma through a military coup in 1962. A new man, he thought, meant a new currency. What better way than by changing the old currency to denominations of his favourite numbers: 15, 30, 45 and 90?! Obviously, he banned the old currency so everyone lost their savings along the way. He logic-ed this out (this and walking backwards on bridges, for instance) that this would make him live to be 90. He died at 91, but not before he was forced out of power.
And the Dumbest Dictator award goes to….North Korea’s Kim Jong II! Firstly, let’s look to what he was all about. He composed six operas, invented the hamburger and was the world’s greatest golfer. (Shooting 38-under par on a regulation 18 hole golf course, that included 11 hole-in-ones. Casual.) And that’s not all! He was also a global fashion phenomenon, was born under a bright star and a double rainbow (because being born under a bright star itself was far too mainstream-nativity-scene for good old Kim) and kidnapped South Korean director Shin Sang-Ok and forced him to produce movies (because the North Korean film industry was not making enough classics for him, it seems!). He also is the only recorded person ever to be able to change the weather with his moods.
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Photo Credit: fetus karate via Flickr Sandwiched between Nicaragua and Colombia, between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Panama and Costa Rica certainly have