Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Chávez Gives Maduro the Bird

Yesterday I saw on Twitter that Nicolás Maduro claimed that Hugo Chávez took the form of a small bird and blessed him. I was having a tough day, so the laugh was welcome. Then I wondered whether this was a joke, or residual April Fool's. But no. He was seriously saying this.

This particular personality cult is really unique, though the Guardian article gives the context of non-Catholic beliefs. One difference is that saints and spirits don't tend to be politicians (though in fact this would be an interest area of research).  Both in Latin America and around the world, dead presidents are just that. Dead. You might embalm them and put them up for people to shuffle by in a line and stare at, or you might just have lots of portraits around that people salute. But you don't often pretend that they're coming back to life in alternate forms.

So does this have legs? It's hard to see it. On the other hand, a month ago I wouldn't have guessed that things like this would actually be spoken by a presidential candidate.

On the other, other hand, it might disappear once the election is over and--presumably--Maduro is president and trying to govern. It's one thing to say it on the campaign trail, but another to be in a cabinet meeting and telling everyone to wait while you go chat with the pajarito.


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