"But I'm not dead yet…"


Give your mind a second to reel at the sheer extravagance of the cult of personality in the mural below, now on proud display at the Guardia Nacional’s Regional Command 1 headquarters in Táchira State…

Staggered much? Good.

Now take a step back and consider…is this artist insane?! That’s basically a picture of Jesus welcoming Chávez into heaven. Isn’t the party line supposed to be that the guy is in the best shape of his life?!


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    • Hey! as long as he is gone, I do not care if he goes to heaven!!!

      That was probably painted by a soon-to-be-general-brown-nosed private.

    • You know when I first saw the mural I pictured writing a post entitled “the Full Kim Jong Il” showing it side-by-side with some North Korean mural. But after 15 minutes on Google Image I realized there really wasn’t any mural on there anywhere near as crazy as this one!

  1. A British friend I also shared this with writes:
    “Wow! I’m sure I’m missing much of the symbolism, though that must be Bolivar standing with his ghostly hand on Hugo’s shoulder. So I just went and googled Hugo to see whan the latest is, and learned about the nativity scene in Caracas. Sticking your patrons in the nativity scene has been a good custom since medieval times, so we should perhaps find it more interesting than shocking — in fact the Guardia picture is right in the middle ages too. How very grim for you.”
    http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/12/09/hugo-chavez-co-stars-with-baby-jesus-in-venezuelan-nativity-scene/ for those who havent seen it.

    She also adds an interesting, and not all too irrelevant imo, comment:
    “Not relevant to this, but something that always intrigues me is how glowingly Aryan/Caucasian roman catholic Jesuses are. Protestant ones, over here at least, are usually shown in cold stone. Fresh bright paint would seem somehow in poor taste. Strange …”

    • Well, Middle Ages it is. I have always said: Venezuela is through and through a country in the Middle Ages: local caudillos, no sense of national identity but local feuds, military caste, people only running after caudillos and no programmes whatsoever, etc.

      I would find it lovely if we could get an interview with the painter…it would be amazing to watch him on an international TV station telling us about the whole symbolism, about his life, upbringing, etc.

      • Kepler,

        I largely agree with you except for the “through and through” part because I don´t believe it´s that cut and dry. A Venezuelan scholar, Graciela Soriano de García-Pelayo, has done solid work on “desarrillo discrónico” (as well as political personalism) I find convincing, The basic argument, in a nutshell, is that in Venezuela and elsewhere in Latin America, we find a complex co-existence and evolution of cultural patterns, values, etc., related to different epochs that, as I interpret, are sometimes encapsuled and isolated, sometimes intertwined, sometimes seamlessly reconciled, but sometimes living in the shadow of a tense, uneasy truce.

        “Desarrollo discrónico” is blatently obvious is Latin American countries with sizeable indigenous populations, less so, in Venezuela. However, here you can see it, not only due to a “modern” – “traditional” divide, but on both sides or, rather, distributed all over the socioeconomic spectrum, There are more cell phones here than inhabitants and many, in urban areas, have access to Internet. At the same time, many Miami pilgrims consult brujos, consume magic potions, etc. And believe in saviors. I conclude we have both social and individual/psychological “discronía”.

        In sum: Middle Ages here and present, yes, for the valid symptoms you list; “through and through, I submit, no.

        • Pandora:

          Venezuela has less Internet coverage in South America than most other countries with similar GDP. It is actually doing pretty badly if you take into account PPP.
          At most, it has more mobiles, I don’t know about that but it is probably right.
          Is that proof of modernity?
          Not at all. It is proof of petrodollars. You call the brujo with your mobile.
          Mind: I don’t mean you or me but a lot of people in Venezuela, one way or the other.

          • I would rather look at WHERE mobiles are BUILT or DESIGNED for development. No matter how poor it might look on the outside, that place is going forward. China, Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong…

            In the past, when you found somebody in the Boondocks, Deepest Africa or the like with a modern rifle you never thought oh, how advanced, even if they were experts. You looked at the factory marking on the rifles… for the place where they know how to make them.

          • Well, that is what I meant.
            If anything, we have that because of the petrodollars, which are our “planes” to get the cargo our Gods send.
            Venezuelans don’t produce more than hammoks
            We had started to produce some things in the late nineties, when oil prices were in the cellar (I even bought a Venezuelan radio back then out of Vaterlandsliebe)

    • “shown in cold stone”? I tried googling that idiom, but I can’t get past the ice cream. Is just that they’re never painted, just sculptures? I know, is a minor side comment, but it intrigues me.

      • Mr Z: I suspect the reference is to plain stone sculptures, but I´ll ask, Your post did make me wonder: After all, those beautiful, elegant, almost alabaster Athenian sculptures I grew up admiring later turned out to have lost their original, apparently gaudy, paint.

  2. I love how Chávez lost about 30 kg. in this mural…and the verruga is gone!!

    At least the Nacimiento-maker kept the verruga in place…

  3. Are we headed for something like this?

    Meanwhile, the other Korea has Samsung, LG, Daewoo, olimpic games and a world cup, and people are, on average, 5 inches taller.

        • Well, you say Qué fuerte because they look Korean. If they looked Venezuelan, you would say qué pajúos. By the way: doesn’t the one at 2:36 look like Diosdado Cabello with a little bit more of hair?
          Kim il Sung is still the Eternal President of the Republic.
          Just think how it would be for Chávez: the Eternal Bolivarian President of the Socialist Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

    • the worst case of mass hysteria that I’ve ever seen. I wonder how much of it was contagious. Meaning, without the cues, some or many would not have overacted.

      • Read “Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea” by Barbara Demick for a really fascinating (and horrifying) account of this and many other events in the recent history of the DPRK. It seems that most of the crying (and clear overacting) was out of fear, but some used it as a cathartic event to express anguish and frustration without having to criticize the regime (which obviously gets you arrested, or worse).

  4. Multitasking.. couldn’t help it but re-post stuff i blogged elsewhere on this topic:

    Coincidentally, I had just commented on Miguel’s board:

    you know what, dear cochonette de feu, i think Chavez is so deranged mentally that he believes he’s the second coming of Jesus Christ, or at least of Simon Bolivar!.. I don’t think he tries to be intentionally “evil”. And to some extent; I think he thinks he follows some basic “catholic” rules, as in thou shall not kill, or rob, and such, from his rural upbringing. I don’t think he likes to see people get killed or robbed. And I don’t think he considers himself a “criminal”, although for all effects and purposes he is,, he’s so delusional he believes he’s doing the right under the blessed tutelage of Jesusito and Bolivar.. he’s just an incompetent, under-educated, megomanial fool with delusions of grandeur..”

    Artistically speaking, strictly aesthetically, I assure you this painting is nothing more than a piece of crap! Goes to show you the level of “cultural refinement” of Chavez and his followers..

    And the tactics behind these “pictorials” are nothing new, except for being as tacky as history as ever seen, except perhaps in Iraq, with Huseein’s crap street art before they nailed him..

    Way before the Egyptians or the Romans, leaders have always manipulated religion and popular heroes to enhance themselves and consolidate their power. Meme en France, partout, “Le Roi Soleil”, etc.. It’s a very, very old ruse, dating back to the beginning of all civilizations: The Alpha dogs, or political leaders masking themselves as direct connections, or heirs, or even Gods themselves (Ramses and such) with big sculptures, public paintings.. Michelangelo , ordered by them Aristocrats over there in power at the time, paints God touching a human hand in a rather famous Chapel.. (he got paid for it, handsomely, rest assured) The rhetoric is as barbaric and idiotic as it is laughable, but it has worked to perfection for centuries: “I am your ruler, chosen directly by God himself,plus endoresed by your bonafide hero Simoncito Bolivar! Thus, everything I say or do is right, and true. Shut up, in the name of Allah, or whomever, pueblo mio, and.. bend over.. Bonus: Cheap public “art”, bad-taste opium for the people, nothing else..

  5. No,

    Because an important message in this picture is not that he is going to die( even though we know he might) but rather that even when Chavez dies his disciples can invoke Chavez’s spirit to carry on his work.In Santerismo spirits can always be called up.

    This message is the perfect way to continue Chavismo without Chavez, and allow his followers a path to liberation through occultism.

      • My perception may or may not be modern…but it is as following:

        It is a general concept but here I am referring just to the specific case of Chavismo which would be Santeria and belief in communication with the spirits of the departed..

        • And how many of Venezuelan voters heed that “obscure” message? What percentage? 10% of the masses fololwing Chavez? Not even that. If I remember correctly, our people are quite straightforward “catholics” (except on Friday’s happy hour at las Mercedes)

          I reiterate my point: Santeria or whatever dark forces might play a very little role somewhere among some really ignorant or superstitious Vzlans, but that’s not the meat, or the beef of any subject here. Not by far. Not even close. And even that “santeria crap you refer to is closely relately to the utter ignorance and under-education of 60% of our people, to throw in any number, oh wait, 80% (if you count the under-graduates at UCV)

          • I think its a lot more prevalent than many give credit to. Next time on the Metro de Caracas, just see how many well dressed business people in suits you see the green/yellow beads on their wrists. Many of my inlaws in Ven were part of it and would even take their kids to the witch doctors instead of real doctors and I didn’t consider them to be overly uneducated. While it’s certainly not as in your face as the Catholic influence, I reckon pilgrimages to the Maria Lionza statue and Sorte mountain are a lot more common than we think. I mean even the Corte Malandro saints are everywhere as soon as we get out of the ‘nicer’ parts of Caracas. Just my 2 cents. As crazy as the mural and Chavez cult of personality is, I say he plays straight for the people who find these spiritualities attractive, and they soak it up and HRCF is a fitting (even if self proclaimed and not effectual) messiah figure. Concerning, but in my experience living in Venezuela, not at all surprising.

          • Pretty close to my point about discronúia. However, I wonder what those not overly undereducated (+/- C sector ?) you mention would do “a la hora de las chiquitas” in front of the voting machine, Certainly should be an oppo target.

          • There’s always some of that santeria stuff in every society, vodoo crap and such. But in Vzla it’s not that prevalent, or anywhere in the world really, it’s followed by a very small portion of the population, 5%? I don’t know.

            The problem is Vzla is not santeria and stuff like that. And that painting or similar crap plays for the larger audience: the vastly un-educated catholic masses in Vzla, who believe in Jesus and love Simon Bolivar as their national hero. Again, all Chavez is doing there, is what most rulers worldwide in history, century after century have done to stay in power: fool they uneducated, credulous and gullible masses of people, making them believe they are chosen leaders by God himself, and endorsed by the local heroes, why not.. El pueblo buys into that kind of crap, to this very day totalitarian regimes in developing countries use that stupid ruse with a lot of success, unfortunataly in Vzla or Iraq, it’s with bad-taste, cheesy paintings, at least the Egyptians, Romans or Spanish built amazing sculptures or churches with the same deceitful purpose.

          • Ing. Iglesia, You continue with your pedantry. So, UCV graduates are not worthy of your esteem? Which Venezuelan university do you hold in high regard? UDO? UCAB? Santa María? Given your pedantic statements, I would think that you would take more care in composing your posts which are full of typos and grammatical errors.

            And your statement “…vodoo crap and such. But in Vzla it’s not that prevalent, or anywhere in the world really, it’s followed by a very small portion of the population, 5%”
            Have you ever heard of Haiti? Cuba?

  6. The level of madness on display is sheer genius. Why, for example, is Bolívar wearing a White Swan headpiece? Surreal.

    • maybe because his spirit joined Les Ballets Trockadero.

      At least, that’s what first came to mind, when I first saw Bolívar’s blue feathered headpiece.

      But seriously, Kep is right. It would be fascinating to read/see an interview of the artist, or the “taller” if it was a group effort.

      Keep in mind that the depicted feathers, birds, fire, and flowers could have indigenous symbolism, such as that which exists among Natives in more northern latitudes. As such, any whitey efforts to come up with definitive meanings, could be construed as ridiculous to the artist(s) and the audience in a Táchira outpost.

    • Agree – Jesus and Bolivar are ethereal, but Hugo (and the kids) are clear and appear substantial. So I see this as Hugo getting the blessing and support from both from another world, while he is doing “great deeds” (the children are the primary recipients – because Hugo is building a better future for Venezuela; Lord knows the present sucks) in this one.

    • Agree. Hugo ‘s saturation and ‘completeness’, as opposed to the transparencies in Bolívar and Jesus, would indicate that Hugo is NOT in heaven. Also, Jesus appears to be blessing, not Hugo directly, but rather, Hugo’s delivery of a Venezuela on a folded flag to an indigenous nation, while a joropo takes place in the background, presumably playing La Alma LLanera, Venezuela’s unofficial national anthem.

      As for the lack of proportions in Hugo’s body, well, who knows what that’s all about. Maybe just bad art.

  7. The mural isn’t of a Chávez being welcomed but of a Timeless-Intermediary Chávez; let’s not forget that THE prayer taught by the Jewish carpenter is to ” Our” father; it calls for His name to be “hallowed” and for His will to be done “on earth as it is in heaven” and here, we see the Christian Saviour virtully bequeathing that will to his chosen one or possibly blessing his implementation of it. That prayer goes on to ask that He provide “our daily bread”, here depicted, not as actual food but the gift of Venezuela (her)self [i.e. it’s his to give] from the Deity, through the agency of His Chosen Main Player, to the native inhabitants. The depiction is of a transcendant Chávez, a millennial intermediary grafted onto a Pater Noster where the “as we forgive thos who trespass against us” ingredient is airbrushed out. The other emblematic elements fill it out. The abiding impression sought is one of “our abiding” and “timeless” icon, wherefore, I would say that the prior poster Mr. or Miss Firepìgette is quite onto something.

  8. So if the Gates of Heaven are the gates to the Campo de Carabobo, does that mean paradise is somewhere near Tinaquillo!? Boy, now I’m *really* confused…

  9. I’m actually laughing my butt off but I’ll give you my interpretation of it: Chavez is the reincarnation of Bolivar and Venezuela is a Land of Grace, who gave us Chavez as a the biggest blessing.
    The bald eagle in flames hold by an Indian is the symbol of a burning empire.
    And it also suggests that Bolivar never thought that the Paraguana peninsula was worth to include in a map.
    I’m good. LOL

    • “…and Venezuela is a Land of Grace, who gave us Chavez as a the biggest blessing”.
      Sorry, I meant to say:
      “…and Venezuela is a Land of Grace, blessed by Jesus, who gave us Chavez as a the biggest blessing.”

    • “And it also suggests that Bolivar never thought that the Paraguana peninsula was worth to include in a map.”

      Great observation on the map. The artist has erased Punto Fijo, which I would suggest means he’s happily “erasing” puntofijismo, or the so-called “Fourth Republic.”

  10. Joke: A Chavista dies and goes to heaven. While in heaven he notices clocks as far as the eye can see. He asks St.Peter “What are all these clocks for?” St.Peter replies, “These clocks belong to those who are still alive on earth. Each time a person tells a lie, the hands on the clock move.” “Wow amazing!” Replied the Chavista. “Who’s clock is this?” he asks, pointing at a clock whose hands are on 12 o clock even. “That is Mother Teresa’s clock. She has never told any lies, therefore the hands have never moved.” He explained. “Well where is my president’s clock at?” The Chavista asked in curiosity. “Oh you mean Hugo Chavez clock? Yeah, that’s in Jesus’ office. He is using it as a fan.”

  11. “Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way round, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise.”
    quote from Adolf Hitler. (Boo!)

  12. Isn’t the Pope due to visit Cuba in 2012?
    Ask yourself, what would the Pope think of this painting?
    And, how much do you want to bet, Chavez will try to go to Cuba
    to meet the Pope.
    Questions abound.Will the Pope actually meet with Fidel Castro?

  13. C Iglesia,

    In the barrios and small towns the majority of people either believe in Santeria completely or partly,or else that are afraid of it.Amulets are used widely against the evil eye, and any barrio has it local perfumarias……Many mix it with Catholic beliefs.

    I suggest you watch this video:


    • wowww,, thanks cochonette,, i was not aware of the extent of those practices or beliefs. It always reverts to my mantra: a widespread lack of education.. people are susceptible to superstitions, and thus manipulated by clowns like Chavez.

      • Mijo, tu nunca te has echado una paseadita por la Av. Baralt??
        In Venezuela, almost everybody, including the sifrinos caraqueños have consulted a witch with a tobacco reading at least once.
        The practices go to blessing houses when you move in, cleaning them with blue soap, and if you ask me, even lighting a candle to your famous saint, like saint Onofre when you need a job.
        So pretty much everybody.

  14. Another question to ask might be “How much did el pueblo pay this jalabolo… ahem…. artist for this masterpiece of sycophancy?”

  15. Quick, the PUKE BUCKET! Retching sounds for 30 seconds…

    Aaaah, now to mail MOBA (http://www.museumofbadart.org/), this falls squarely in their ballpark.

    And I used to laugh my head off at Middle Easterners for the cheesy portraits of leaders. No more alas! Time levels all, I am just like you, me! associated by citizenship! to a megalomaniac who allows such atrocities against taste and propriety!

    Hugo looks vaguely like a tall and bald alien. What’s with the small head and the overlong body and arms? Okay, maybe a bit of Hitman/47.

    And Bolivar, does he look like a 60ish matron, complete with makeup and lipstick, and a sky-blue hair band?

    Was the artist high when he designed the rest of the mural? We would wish that…

  16. It’s like postmodernity got sick and puked all over the wall of some Venezuelan military base. WTF? The only thing that’s missing in that picture is Fidel Castro doing somersaults on the beach and what the hell is up with the angry looking indigenous kid?

  17. I am curator of Galerie Agathe Gaillard in Paris. We make a exhibit of modern religions art this year. I pay 200,000 Euros for this pictures. Where I can to contact the artiste?

    • You are out of your cabeza, mon. That picture is worth -2 centavos and not a penny more…
      The freakin’ :artiste” is some insane aslyum, or should be…

      • Charles, I study art my whole life. It IS my whole life. When I first see this beautiful pictures, I wept.

        Why do I weep? Because a true genius moves among you, an Ovid among the Goths, but you ruffians do not understand him, so you mock this beautiful man.

        He throws his pearls before swine. I think there are not many pearls in Venezuela, but there are many swine. But in France we would honor such an artiste.

          • Pass me the freakin’ kleenex, I am crying too…
            Tears of laughter- this is going to be hard to beat in 2012- maybe even the decade..

          • You find no merit in this paintings because you are the opponent of Chavez. But imagine, instead of Hugo Chavez, it is someone you admire, perhaps the face of Angela Merkel. If you forget the politics, you see it is a craftsman of great skill.

            You have Christ, Chavez and Bolivar, who symbol the holy trinity. You have the burning Eagle that symbols the US, and the native child who symbols virgin America before the Spanish arrived, with their guns and their weapons of war. And you have parrots- I am not sure what they symbol.

            There is a great excitement around this paintings in Paris. I have many clients interested in meeting the artiste, including a member of Kuwait’s royal house. But I call to the Guardia Nacional headquarter and they do not answer the phone. It lucky I not being mugged!

          • I promise to look into it when I go to San Cristobal next month (but I want a 15% finder’s fee if I put you in touch with the painter…)

        • Not only a troll, but a sexist one at that. Why did you assume “ze artiste” is a man? Some gender bias you have there, Al.

        • alsonsina: your tears conflict with logic. the specialized photography gallery at which you’re a so-called *curator* is not suited to the display of a wall painting.

        • You are absolutely right, Alfonse, I dislike the painting because A: I oppose Chavez, B: Because it is full of lies and misrepresentation and because C: It glorifies a man who has dome more damage to our society in 13 years than anyone ever did.

          On top of all this the artistic skill involved is nothing special.

          If you can swindle, I mean, sell, this to the Kuwaiti royals, all the power to you.

          I hope your tears don’t keep you from seeing the painful truth any longer.

          Good luck

    • you’re out of luck, it’s a mural, not a painting: you’ll have to cut it out of the wall off CORE-1 in San Cristobal!

    • There’s something seriously wrong with this offer…perhaps you don’t realize it, but the Galerie Agathe Gaillard exhibits photography? http://www.art-of-the-day.info/g2534-galerie-agathe-gaillard.html and http://www.agathegaillard.com/contact.html .

      Well, you do say you would pay 200K Euros for the picture, so perhaps you really did mean photograph…though I have no idea how a photograph of a painting constitutes art in and of itself. And just how do you have 200K Euros to spend on a single photograph when admission to the Galerie…is free?

      “modern religions art” Yes, I think you got that part right. 🙂


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