El bolivarianismo / Oswaldo Barreto


The omnivorous use the regime makes of the figure of Simón Bolívar (his image, his words, his actions) has led more than one of our thinkers and political leaders to assume it as a new manifestation of the already studied cult of the hero. Updating one of our well-established collective representations which has been judged very closely and wisely by one of today’s historians as “the transformation of ‘a people’s cult’ into ‘a cult for the people’ ” (Germán Carrera Damas, in a conference given on 11/25/05).

A cult for the people or “a second religion,” as it’s also designated by the author himself, the fact that this manipulation of Bolívar’s figure doesn’t seem to have limits and is destined, for now at least, to expand throughout the corners of our conscience and the national process. And a type of resignation before the irresistible rise of Bolivarianism is also anchored in our conscience, in the conscience of all Venezuelans. That’s why at this point, none of us are scared about everything being called Bolívar or Simón Bolívar, nor does it pain us or make us lose sleep that everything is enacted directly and without any mediation whatsoever, all the works, fantasies and hallucination of the Great Man. As we’ve all seen, people have even started to talk about “21st Century Socialism” as a project rooted in the Socialist thought and action of The Liberator.

But we think this reception the cult of Bolívar has found in our diverse social and cultural strata overlooks what might be the fundamental reason for its existence, which is basically what normally underlies any cult, religion or myth: the projection of Hugo Chávez’s desires, passions or ambitions in the figure of Bolívar, so that what appears to be generous and altruistic fervor about The Liberator is nothing but the camouflaging of a most extreme and egotistical cult of self. Everything the flesh and bone man who governs us thinks of conceals itself under the guise of the disappeared hero still firmly anchored in our people’s history. And as a necessary corollary, as a perverse effect of that already perverted metamorphosis, we contemplate various forms of homage and adoration for Chávez that claim to praise Simón Bolívar.

{ Oswaldo Barreto, Tal Cual, 6 August 2007 }

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