Be careful what you say to police — you never know when you might become the national butt of jokes and a flood of memes.
Colombian Nicolás Gaviria learned this the hard way when a video of him verbally assaulting police officers in Bogotá went viral in a matter of what seemed like minutes, making the 29-year-old an instant household name in Colombia and the subject of seemingly endless jokes at his expense.
According to Gaviria, the altercation began when the taxi driver that had brought him from a nearby town tried to charge him an exorbitant rate. When he began to argue with the driver, he says a group of taxi drivers approached and that he felt they intended to hurt him.
The situation escalated when police officers tried to intervene. Gaviria, who was clearly drunk, repeatedly yelled at them, insulted them and pushed the officers several times before he was finally subdued and taken into custody.
Though he was taken to a local police station, so far no charges have been brought against him.
During the incident, Gaviria tried to intimidate the officers by telling them he was the nephew of former Colombian president César Gaviria, repeating “You don’t know who you’re dealing with” and “You don’t know who I am” (the infamous “Usted no sabe quien soy yo”).
The ex-President, who was traveling at an event in Spain, originally denied any relation to the subject of the video. Later, his press office released a statement saying that Nicolás Gaviria is a distant relative, essentially a nephew twice-removed. The former head of state added that he regretted that anyone would attempt to use his name for an advantage while dealing with authorities.
In the nearly three-minute video, Nicolás Gaviria can also be heard threatening to send the police officers to Chocó — a predominantly Afro-Colombian department along Colombia’s Pacific coast.
In an interview with Blu Radio the following day, Gaviria tried to portray himself as a victim of the media, saying the video had been edited to show him in a bad light.
“The video is cut, it’s edited and doesn’t show what really happened,” he said. “It doesn’t show the faces of those that I was confronting, there were some taxi drivers there that wanted to do me harm.”
For some, the video was the clearest (and most well-documented) example of how some members of Colombia’s elite and wealthy classes leverage their connections to permit bad behavior, and to avoid facing consequences from authorities — not to mention the comment about Chocó, which struck many as overtly racist. In a country where police violence is a concern for many, Gaviria’s verbal and physical assault against police officers is something most people would never dream of doing.
As a punishment, Colombia’s social media users seized on the video and its contents almost immediately, putting their creativity to work to send thousands of tweets and memes mocking Gaviria’s behavior. Some even dug through his own Facebook profile, unearthing photos of him with President Juan Manuel Santos, members of the military and in expensive cars.
Queda claro que Nicolás Gaviria cumple con todos los requisitos para ser senador de la República.
— Andrés Carvajal (@muchotropico) March 3, 2015
“It’s clear that Nicolás Gaviria meets all the requirements to be a senator.”
Nadie sabía quien era Nicolás Gaviria hasta que dijo #UstedNoSabeQuienSoyYo.
— Felipe Zuleta Lleras (@Fzuletalleras) March 3, 2015
“Nobody knew who Nicolás Gaviria was until he said #UstedNoSabeQuienSoyYo.”
Cómo así… El Chocó es un castigo ? #UstednosabequiensoyYo
— Laureano Tirado (@laureanotirado) March 3, 2015
“What…. Chocó is a punishment?”
– ¿Usted no sabe quién soy yo?
– Señor, si no va a comprar el carro, por favor bájese pic.twitter.com/h17k6FCslB
— Carolina (@Caromunozb) March 3, 2015
-“You don’t know who I am?” -“Sir, if you’re not going to buy the car, please get out”
"La estupidez, a diferencia del dinero, sí está bien repartida" #UstedNoSabeQuienSoyYo
— Adriana Díaz (@adrianadiazh) March 4, 2015
“Stupidity, unlike money, is well distributed”
Even brands jumped on the trend, with low-cost airline Viva Colombia promoting its fares to Cesar Gaviria (while clarifying it doesn’t have routes to Chocó).
Señor expresidente Cesar Gaviria, mande a volar a sus familiares desde $ 49.990 por trayecto (no volamos a Chocó) #UstedNoSabeQuienSoyYo
— VivaColombia (@VivaColombiaco) March 4, 2015