Abraham Lincoln may or may have not have been responsible for the famous quote “better to remain silent and thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt” Whatever the provenance of the quote it is a proverb that most of us should heed.
One person who has never heard of the golden nature of silence is Hugo Chavez, a person with an almost preternatural talent for talking nonsense and at great length.
However, According to the Guardian, Chavez has fallen silent as he recovers from emergency hip surgery in Cuba. This is out if character for a man who has reportedly interrupted normal television programming 2,135 times to address his nation since taking power in 1999. The strange quietness has fuelled a flurry of speculation and criticism back home.
Since being admitted to hospital in Cuba on 10 June, Chávez has made just two public appearances, showing up last Friday in four photographs alongside the Cuban president Raul Castro and a telephone interview with the Venezuelan Telesur television network. Meanwhile 1.6 million followers have been starved for tweets from the Venezuelan president since 4 June.
His lack of comment on a serious outbreak of prison violenc a growing power crisis have prompted criticism from the opposition parties and a spate of online rumours.
"Such poor, scarce and ambiguous medical updates inevitably trigger rumours that go from liposuction to improve his figure to a back problem that will hinder his ability to campaign, or even a more serious illness," wrote Luis Vicente León, a columnist for the opposition El Universal, on Sunday.
"It is absurd that the president can sign documents from Cuba," said Robert Bottome, from the Caracas-based consultancy VenEconomy, warning that Chávez's absence could trigger a messy scramble for power in Venezuela. "By disrespecting the constitution we are leaving the door open to serious turmoil," he said.
Such a long silence from Chavez is certainly strange. It does have one major benefit – that he has not been spouting his usual rubbish. Perhaps silence will improve his standing on the world stage elevating him form cretin to fool…