Épica para el más acá / Israel Centeno

An Epic for the Here and Now

The not-dead comandante will ascend to immortality, he will be seated beside the Liberator father and will govern the earth. His kingdom was never of this world.

The Great Question

From the moment when Hugo Chávez established his conspiratorial lodge under the shadow of the mythical samán tree in Güere, he plotted to articulate and make the assault on power effective, he already had the consciousness of a founder of religions: he needed to go beyond it and transcend himself in the direction of the eternal exercise of power by means of faith.

Why is it that the lieutenant colonel comandante and only and unquestionable leader of the Bolivarian revolution, when he had before him the medical reports that revealed that his life expectancy was very limited, why didn’t he retire to seek peace and intimacy in his final months, saving his country and the people he loves so much, not just the confusion, but more division and the deepening of hatreds, instead of an onerous and useless electoral campaign that was won for the benefit of his death?

What matters is the people and Hugo Chávez has always said that he is the people. There is no room for any other interpretation. His glory and triumph over death are the triumph of the disinherited people, etcetera.

The president’s final electoral campaign had as its objective to reaffirm himself as a power that he would continue to wield in any manner as long as he lived, a matter already guaranteed by the collapse of State institutions and the submission of all public powers.


This was the exclamative slogan of his final campaign. Insensitivity? No, subtlety. We will live, despite death. After death. Here and now or beyond, We Will Live.

That’s what it was about.


The core of the discourse of he who now dilates his step toward glory has been expressed at every moment by the immortality of his project, in other words in He himself. His discourse is religious and the huge audience of his telenovela required sacrifice, passion and even death.

Right now, Chávez the heart of the people, agonizes.

Or he’s dying.

Or he’s already dead.

Or he returns ready for the altars.

The Dogma of Consubstantiation

In Venezuela the truth doesn’t exist, dogmas of faith (and speculations) exist.

The medical reports emitted by bureaucrats have to be believed as dogmas of faith (and at the same time as speculations, a portal towards another chapter of a metaphysical telenovela).

But something is rotten in that Cuban sea of happiness. A dense fog has covered the presidential entourage in the tropics, with circles corrupted by counter-information and military intelligence, geopolitics, the destiny of all the possible etceteras are mixed in the aseptic rooms of a bunker transformed into an intensive care unit. The caudillo, intubated or not, no longer belongs to himself, now he is led by his political engineers toward the consummation of his epic. The light at the end of the tunnel appears: there’s life after death. Keyword: Viviremos.

The personal project, after drinking from the cup at his Gethsemane, moves at the speed of a cruise ship amidst a Cuban Venezuelan melodrama, the avatar begins to feel the omnipresence of his new divine reality. He will suspend his life above the absence of truth hanging in limbo and when he crosses that limbo he will become a myth. He is about to create wonders. That could make him feel very happy, notes one of his scriptwriters.

It’s been hard work. Two years of diligently weaving the plot toward the consubstantiation of Chávez the son into father Bolívar: Chavismo is a religion and Chávez is the God incarnate, who will rise to sit beside the eternal Bolívar. He would have told Fidel: “Father, take this cup from me.” Oh, sorry. It was to Bolívar.

All of this seems to have been created by the mad mind of a radio soap opera scriptwriter from the nineteen-fifties, an ambitious task of political engineering insistent on the execution of fatality’s script, momentum. That’s what political intelligence is about, a naive voice from the guilty First World left might note, interpreting the momentum. Another might answer him: it’s actually a matter of consecrating the hero’s otherworldly glory.

Let’s Observe Another Subtlety:

Hugo Chávez, as always and against all logic, has borne his tragicomedy throughout the ordeal. Things seem to fit into a Holy Week soap opera where all pacts of verisimilitude have been violated. He insisted on profaning Simón Bolívar’s tomb to obtain his DNA, under the pretext of proving he died from poisoning. The only thing obtained from that, and this is crucial, was a portrait with features that made Chávez seem physically similar to the Divine Bolívar. This portrait (after death?) will have the same symbolic meaning of the cross. In that face, the lieutenant colonel comandante draws his own sign and validates his prophecy regarding his own eternity. There’s no doubt that this portrait, regardless of the outcome, will become a relic that will hang from the necks of his believers.

From the first reveilles of his revolution, his project seemed to gravitate toward the will to die in power. One life wasn’t enough to change the destiny of a people. But drawing near the end of this season of the revolutionary soap opera, things go beyond the grave, and there we see him astride the caudillista tradition of Spanish literature, The Song of My Cid, he could ride on Bolívar’s horse and inside Santa Evita’s corset: soaking up Christian eschatology.

In order to rise to heaven
You need
A big ladder and another little one

The not-dead comandante will ascend to immortality, he will be seated beside the Liberator father and will govern the earth. His kingdom was never of this world. And we can almost hear the comandante master tell his apostles: “Ramírez, Diosdado, Maduro: upon this army, this Petro-State-PDVSA and this Party, you will build my church.”

“Heaven and earth will pass, but not my words.”

Marxists have always been amazed by the virtues of scientific materialsim to establish religions, but never before have they reached this degree of maximum perfection.

In this season of the Bolivarian tragicomedy’s new chapters Chávez the miraculous will appear wandering all over the world, making the left and the mute speak in tongues; performing miracles. And we’ll be able to read post-Chávez as a Chávez who never left, who remains in the omnipresence of popular divinity. His vicars and his church will be the guardians of the process and the faith.

The dogma won’t take long to be consolidated. And Power will continue to be wielded by his ineffable spirit.

It’s a shame that many see Chávez’s illness as a fortunate punishment, a fortunate political crossroads, the possibility of regaining the paths of modernity. They forget that illness is not a punishment. And above all they forget that Hugo Chávez’s exit from the scene will not be political: it will be religious. Here, life and death do not exist. And all of this will guarantee the well-known manipulations of his “spiritual strength” for his persistence as a reality and as a myth. What’s worse: Chávez’s vicars on earth will remain intact, with the Petro-State at their feet: fascist militarism, the populist and rentier culture of the Venezuelan and a dramatic absence of institutions.

Israel Centeno is a Venezuelan writer, author of the novel Calletania (Madrid: Editorial Periférica).

{ Israel Centeno, El País, 18 February 2013 }

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