Friday, July 16, 2010

Hugo Chávez and Simón Bolívar's corpse

Hugo Chávez has exhumed Simón Bolívar's remains, with the stated goal of determining whether he died of tuberculosis.  This event was so momentous that Chávez announced it through some tweets.

Doing weird things with corpses and body parts has a long and distinguished history in Latin America.  Lyman Johnson, a colleague of mine in History at UNC Charlotte, edited a book a few years ago entitled Death, Dismemberment, and Memory: Body Politics in Latin America.  It's amazing how relevant dead bodies can be for contemporary politics.  Not quite zombies, but close.


boz 11:40 AM  

Chavez promised to do this back in 2008 and now he's delivered. Another accomplishment for the Bolivarian Revolution.

Tambopaxi 12:14 PM  

I've heard of bread and circuses approach to political entertainment of the electorate, but this is a bit much. The Ghoulivarian Revolution?

Anonymous,  12:54 PM  

"Weird things." Zombie-like. Kinda judgmental there Greg. Maybe I think the Anglo-Saxon approach to corpses is weird. What standard are you using in judging the Venezuelan government's actions?

The issue of Chavez authorizing a exhumation and analysis for tuberculosis (as you present it) is no more weird than digging up a Medici. Certainly less so than the case of Prescott Bush stealing the bones of Geronimo.

Much of what we know in history comes from digging up tombs and funeral practices. If there is something legitimately bizarre aka Evita's body, please explain.

leftside 2:35 PM  

I think we would want to know if George Washington was murdered in a cover up, or at least, whether his official cause of death was accurate or not. Recognized scientists, with no political bones to pick, have concluded that tubercolusis was likely not the correct diagnosis; that it was arsenic poisening. But only exhumation can tell for sure.

Mike A,  10:10 PM  

Chavez was watching too many old recordings of Geraldo Rivera's unveiling of Capone's vault. Maybe he'll get a gig on Fox News in the future too.

Alfredo 9:51 PM  

Striving for the truth should always be the goal of individuals and society in general, but this is a bit too much. Good distraction though.

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