The “Cuartel de la Montaña,” which houses the remains of Hugo Chávez, has become the new epicenter of Venezuela’s political religion, temporarily displacing the National Pantheon and the recently constructed mausoleum for the remains of Simón Bolívar.
Yesterday (August 5) was the 6 month anniversary of the passing of Chávez. Monthly ceremonies are held to mark the event. Yesterday’s ceremony was attended by President Maduro and most of his cabinet and was broadcast on national cadena. An ecumenical praying session and a Catholic mass were celebrated.
In his discourse closing the event, President Maduro summarized several every conspiracy theories held by the government.
Notably, he began his exposition framing the notion of fatherland (patria) on anti-imperialism. He explained that the fundamental characteristic of the Venezuelan fatherland was its anti-imperialist condition:
“In our case the fatherland is anti-imperialist or it is no fatherland at all, because our fatherland was born from breaking the bonds that held it to ancient empires, and now the fatherland has been reborn to face the attempts of modern empires to dominate us.”
Maduro continued his discourse linking the Empire with the ultra-right (opposition):
“They [the opposition] are obsessed. The ultra-right, the international right and the Imperial factors have an obsession with Venezuela, and now that obsession is centered on me, and this is why there are so many plans, so many crazy things.”
“How many things did they say about Chávez? How many times did they try to morally and physically assassinate him? (…)
We are waiting for the right historical moment and, better sooner than later, we will conform a scientific commission to investigate, as our Comandante deserves, all the antecedents and the origin of the estrange, abrupt, and surprising illness he suffered, which took hold of his body at the height of his strength and creative and physical energies.”
“The historical enemies of the fatherland were certain that, with the physical departure of our Comandante and the huge void he left behind, the Revolution would not resist for a single day.”
Blaming the opposition for the recent electric power cuts he declared:
“They [the opposition] want to blackout our souls [hacer un apagón del alma] so that we stop believing in the creative powers of our people, they want to blackout the hopes of the peoples of the world, not only of the Venezuelan people, they want to produce a general blackout of the dignity of independence.”
Maduro ended his intervention in religious terms, asking Venezuelans to live by the example set by the Eternal Comandante:
“What is the best way to be Chávez, to be loyal to his gigantic figure beyond the tears and the pain? What is the best way to authentically connect to what he was, with his dreams and hopes? What is the best way to correspond him for everything he did for the people and for the history of this reborn fatherland? (…) Those who love the Supreme Leader must revise themselves and ask themselves, such as I do every day: What do I do for Chávez? How much do I do for Chávez? How do I do it? And, where do I do it?”
[Translating President Maduro’s peculiar rhetoric is difficult. Help is welcome.]