The following article by Agustin Blanco Munoz has been translated by Free Venezuela staff from El Universal. It is a sobering reflection by someone who knew Hugo Chavez on the nature and extent of the Chavista messianism being pushed by the regime.
We’re All Chávez, the Great Father
The cult which combines the magical-religious with the patriotic-heroic is growing and deepening. Its expression has become a slogan, “We’re all Chávez”, Chávez the God who recovered the fatherland lost when Bolívar, our first Great Father was betrayed.
There were attempts before, such as those of Zamora and Castro but only now, with the “Bolivarian Revolution” has it been reconquered by the Comandante, to place it in the hands of the people.
And now, at this moment of pain and sadness arising from his illness, it’s time to assess his legacy. Because we’re in the presence of another Supreme Being; there’s always someone who’ll say, “First God and then Chávez.”
At the root of all this talk there is profound concern about the behavior of regime activists and those who have become know “Chávez’s people”, led once more to the altar of a hero who has become their sole and only savior.
There’s nothing new about the new Saint, however. He forms part of tradition which unites the Heroes with God in order to carry out a mission beyond the power of mere mortals. These great men, guided by the Divinity, decide all which must be undertaken by their subjects.
The succession of these figures in our history is well known. Bolívar got rid of Miranda, of Piar and many others until he in turn was substituted for Catire Páez, himself linked to the mythical undercurrents of the plains.
This power fell into the hands of Guzmán Blanco in the 1870s, Cipriano Castro at the beginning of the 20th century and in 1945 Rómulo Betancourt, the civilian who took up the caudillo tradition without abandoning the mythic-religious one, the better to operate in the context of income from oil and to expand the reach of his power.
In 1998 it was the turn of that coup d’état leader, President Hugo Chávez. What’s important to remember here is that he managed to maintain and develop the mythic-religious epic on the basis of a politics converted into an oil business. So the starting point for the “Bolivarian Revolution” is the existence of a vast quantity of activists whose participation is based on what they receive from the state’s growing oil revenues.
There is no revolution with solid political and ideological foundations. Here there’s no belief in doctrines but rather in men seen as possessed of powers and revenues arising from magical-religious stereotypes. And the current Great Father knew this from the start.
On June 24th 1998 I accompanied the candidate who had previously led a failed coup d’état at the military parade at Campo de Carabobo. At the end of the ceremony, people surrounded him to ask for autographs, look at him, listen to him and in many cases to touch him and bless themselves.
Later, when we had left I said to him, “But Hugo, this is messianism”, “It’s something that’s there and you can’t confront it” was his response. The Great Father was already aware of the need to take advantage of this messianic power to direct people towards the achievement of his political goals.
Now, in the context of the Great Father’s grave illness the cult reasserts itself. On December 8th the patient returned to Venezuela and his closest followers and servants celebrated. At around ten o’ clock that night he announced to the country that his cancer had reappeared and that he would return to Cuba for a fourth operation, the leaders of Cuba and a handful of others being the only ones in possession of the truth regarding his health.
Public prayers throughout the country for the health of the Great Father were immediately organized. The cult is reinforced on the basis of planning and organization. His candidates committed themselves to winning all the elections for governor and right at the end of the day the High Command of the Armed Forces released a message of solidarity with the Great Father and swore eternal loyalty to him, to the revolution and socialism
In the special session of the National Assembly called to give the Great Father permission to return to Cuba there were speeches that further exalted his cult and these reached even greater heights of devotion when he was seen off at the airport. The affective-magical-religious connection is being ever more openly displayed.
Everything is planned so that the cult of the hero can continue to function regardless of the circumstances. The Great Father’s illness has become a political fact in itself and the platform to establish the immediate succession if worst come to worst, or in 2019 if everything goes as planned.
The medical bulletin released by the Vice President on the 11th spoke of a difficult but successful operation. That of the 12th, by contrast allowed a graver situation to be perceived. The leadership of “Venecuba”, with Fidel Castro at its head, has complete control of the situation and is using the Great Father’s illness as a situation from which benefits can be reaped.
That’s why the cult of the hero is being pushed and intensified; it works today when “We’re all Chávez” and it’ll work tomorrow when Chávez’s successor is Chávez himself represented by one or more of the agents of his cult-church.