Mango Madness

Wednesday, May 06, 2015


Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro was hit on the head with a mango thrown by a woman hoping to enlist Maduro’s help in finding a new home. The mango had the words “if you can, call me” scrawled on it. Marleni Olivio says she meant no harm to Maduro, and the president responded with a surprising offer of a new apartment. CNN reports

“I didn't have paper available at that moment,” she told El Pitazo TV. “What I had was a mango that I was about to eat because I was hungry.”

Maduro's critics are calling the incident a manguicidio, a play on the words “mango” and magnicidio, a Spanish word meaning assassination of a powerful leader. In Venezuela's extremely polarized political climate, Maduro frequently talks about his belief that the opposition is conspiring to target him for assassination.

But the mango-thrower says she had no evil intent. “My dream is to own a home before I die.”


In 1968, a Pakistani delegation brought a gift of several dozen mangoes to Chairman Mao, leader of Communist China. Rather than keep the fruit for himself, Mao insisted the mangoes belonged to the workers and began an enormous propaganda campaign to distribute the mangoes as personal gifts of the Chairman. Each factory would receive a single mango—one factory would preserve it in formaldehyde, another would find a more creative means of sharing the divine mango with all of its workers. A witness described the reception at the Beijing Textile Factory:

The workers at the factory held a huge ceremony, rich in the recitation of Mao’s words, to welcome the arrival of the mango, then sealed the fruit in wax, hoping to preserve it for prosperity. The wax-covered fruit was placed on an altar in the factory auditorium, and workers lined up to file past it, solemnly bowing as they walked by. No one had thought to sterilize the mango before sealing it, however, and after a few days on display, it began to show signs of rot. The revolutionary committee of the factory retrieved the rotting mango, peeled it, then boiled the flesh in a huge pot of water. Another ceremony was held, equally solemn. Mao again was greatly venerated, and the gift of the mango was lauded as evidence of the Chairman's deep concern for the workers. Then everyone in the factory filed by and each worker drank a spoonful of the water in which the sacred mango had been boiled.