Image posted on President Nicolas Maduro’s official twitter account @NicolasMaduro, on March 5, 2014
Hugo Perez Hernáiz and David Smilde
During a difficult year in which the future of Chavismo has become increasingly uncertain, the Maduro government has continued to construct a civil religion around the figure of Hugo Chávez through a continual flow of ritual events.
These ceremonies construct a narrative in which XIX Century independence struggle against imperial Spain is constantly linked to the life of Chávez and his personal struggle against new forms of imperialism. Indeed the life and death of Chávez himself is narrated as the reenactment of the life of Venezuela’s independence hero Simón Bolívar. President Maduro emphasized this connection in his speech on July 5, Venezuela’s Independence Day.
We are here today to make effective the message of independence that was enacted 200 years ago in this land of Venezuela, a great battle of ideas, a battle by those who were willing to open a historical time to the new man and women that live in this fatherland. We are aware today more than ever that this is a legacy left to us by Comandante Chávez. Today…we can say that thanks to Simón Bolívar, thanks to the men and women of our time, at 16 months of the physical passing of our Comandante Hugo Chávez, we have to infinitely thank our Comandante for giving us dignity.
Looking back at the first half of 2014 we can trace the multiple ceremonial events that are being used to construct a new civil religion.