MIAMI (AP) — Gustavo Rios mimics Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez with comical, exaggerated precision. His voice billows in a triumphant tone and his hands prance in the air.
It's a mockery that came with a price in Venezuela, where the boisterous, domineering president has cultivated his image as a widely supported savior: Rios was taunted, threatened, robbed, and had his car set ablaze.
He fled Venezuela and now his act is featured in a Spanish-language show broadcast on U.S. airwaves as the real Chavez lies in a Cuban hospital, recovering or suffering — no one seems to know exactly — from complications following cancer surgery.
Rios dresses as the president and pokes fun. What he doesn't do: mention the word "cancer." Rios knows what the disease is like. His own father has it.