The Possibility of an Island

La Orchila
La Orchila

So now it turns out President Chávez is (or is not – you know how these things are) spending his last days receiving hospice care on the tiny naval-base/island of La Orchila, about 160 km. north of Caracas. The government pours scorn on the rumours, but offers only bluster in their place. So…is it true? Is it not true? Who on Earth can tell?

The more I think about it, the more it seems perfect. Chávez’s final days are a perfect encapsulation of his rule – a bizarre web of rumours, deceptions and over-the-top accusations stemming from an obdurate insistence on total opacity. How could it have been otherwise?

To the extent that anybody actually believes the propaganda lie about Chávez being on the mend, it’s the president’s own supporters. The people who’ll find the news hardest to digest, those whom the government claims to champion and represent, are the ones actually being lied to, right down to the very end. It’s their needs, their right to transparency, to psychologically prepare themselves and to, in time, grieve with dignity, that are being monstrously trampled over in favor of the sick power games of the chavista inner circle.

Could the grotesque disfigurement of Venezuela’s public sphere be more dramatically displayed?

Chávez is dying just as he lived: lost in a maelstrom of his own lies, shafting the people he claimed to care most about. It really is perfect.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.


    • When I first came across the rumor, I thought 3 things:
      Finally Gaby80 was doing something productive (and rather touching) with her life.
      Didn’t the Hospimili already have a chapel?
      Would this be the site for the final service of elqueteconté?

      • Can you imagine Chavez’s corpse in a small chapel in the Military Hospital? Not a chance!

        My guess is that once he is pronounced dead, the funerary rites and related activities will be comparable to those held for the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt.

        • suspect they will put on a real show for him , everyone will act surprised as everyone knows he is dead , they just believe each others bullshite and have been for the last 14 years , its time for caprilles to turn this circus around , adios chavez and bye to your sheep

  1. “to prepare psychologically and to, in time, grieve with dignity, that is being monstrously trampled here in favor of the sick power games of the inner circle. Could the grotesque disfigurement of Venezuela’s public sphere be more dramatically displayed?”

    You have seen nothing. Wait to the presidential campaign. Then you will truly see the grotesque utilization of grieve for political mobilization. . .

    • It was well displayed on 27F, when Rosa Virginia was plucked from her vigil at her Dad’s deathbed. That is, to stand on the podium with Maduro, so as to unwittingly bolster his support among the uh-ah-chavez-no-se-va crowd. While she was all smiles, you could see the strain on her face and posture. Or so it seemed to me.

  2. he is dead , believe it!!!!
    Finally dead on dec 30th ………. let venezuela begin its repairs from this monster

  3. One other thought…

    How did it come to this? How could the Chavistas have been so stupid as to allow a cancer stricken man to run for President? They knew. Of course they knew. In the summer of 2012 there was a lot of speculation as to how they were going to somehow ‘fix’ the electoral process to allow for the possible (likely) deterioration of Hugo Chavez’s health status through 2013 and beyond. Replace Adan Chavez’s name with Hugo’s. Or have Hugo run as Vice President, but be the real power behind the future government. None of this happened. Why? Were they really that ignorant of political reality, or is this merely a reflection how utterly corrupt the internal politcs of Chavismo really is? The answer is probably both. Hugo is now dying and the PSUV is facing a new election,…shortly. They blew their wad of money last year. Now what?

  4. If they really want to win the next election, and Chavez is dead or dying, then find some slum dweller and get him to “assasinate” Chavez (pay him lavishly, promise that he’ll be protected, and that it’s for the cause). Catch him, get him to say publicly that he did it so that the opposition could win the next election, transport him to a prison by helicopter, have it crash (without him really in it so that he can disappear and live safely in Cuba), call a state of emergency to protect against imperialist and opposition saboteurs, have an enormous state funeral for Chavez (saying that he would have survived if it hadn’t been for the murdering opposition) then call a fresh election.
    Yes, that’s a bit far fetched, but not much more than some of the comments that I’ve read to other posts.

    • Trust me, Chavistas will blame Chavez death on the opposition, on the U.S., and anybody else who does not support them. Chavez himself stated early on that his cancer was caused by the U.S. A complicated plot is not necessary. Chavistas have been known to lie and they can create a story for just about anything.

    • I like your theory ajames, but I see a couple of holes in it:

      1) It would be hard to explain that all of the security measures that have been taken could’ve been breached by any regular Joe off the streets
      2) Pay lavishly? Helicopter crash? Protect in Cuba? Much easier to just kill off the poor schmuck (à la Lee Harvey Oswald)
      3) Their strategy in any case is to base the upcoming election (and the next one, and the one after that, and the one after that…) on the memory of chabe, “let’s honor his last wish and uphold the revolution, yadda yadda yadda…” and, in my opinion, it will work wonders and get Nicky M elected. I don’t see any reason to over-complicate things with an assassination plot…

    • To do this right:

      Find some not-very-bright and very angry anti-chavez yahoo with oppo ties,
      Recruit him to assassinate Chavez with a false-flag operation.

      “so that he can disappear and live safely in Cuba…” Why let him live? Dead men tell no tales.
      After the assassination – summary trial and quick execution.

      The model is the asssassination of Admiral Darlan in Algiers in 1942 (just after the Allied occupation). The gunman was arrested, convicted, and executed two days later. Even after the trial and sentence, he seems to have expected a mock execution.

      • The Reichstag fire 1933! The Dutch guy who did it was declared to be a communist, put on trial, then executed. It brought about the Enabling Act, which gave the Nazi’s total governmental domination through the 1930’s, which evenetually led to the invasion of Poland in 1939, then France in 1940, then Russia in 1941 and then…then….

  5. Tthe uh-ah-chavez-no-se-va crowd might not get upset about being lied to on where Chavez is. The will defend the lie as “that’s the only thing they could’ve done to protect Chavez privacy from the sick opposition”.
    Now, what’s important here is that if Chavez hasn’t been the one giving orders and signing papers in the last few weeks, then Maduro and compinches are guilty of the biggest case of identity theft, fraud, etc., etc., etc. in history. As such, him, Cabello, etc. should go straightb to jail and not be able to run for any public office ever again.

  6. Who saw him leaving the hospital??? it´s all a bunch of continous lies, how come there is zero evidence of his arrival or departure to Caracas? not one single person has seen him, not one single amateur photo taken with a celular phone

      • In my younger years I was struck by his devastating prose. Houellebecq’s prose, not Chavez’ (just to be clear!).

        Regarding your post, I think the blatant lies and manipulation of Chavez’s last few weeks on earth will come back to hunt the ripe one. Tarde o temprano se la van a cobrar.

  7. He could already be in the bottom of the Caribbean, sewn inside a sail and with the proverbial cannonball tied, for all we know…

    Really, I really hope that Maduro and Cabello will be around when the accurate and truthful history of Hugo’s Last Days is leaked out in entirety. Not because I want to know the details of a horrible death, but because I want every detail of it to weigh on the shoulders of the people who went along with the lies, and for them to see the extent of the deception.

    I do wish for people, specially chavistas, to correlate Hugo Chavez being out of it in pain, drugged with opiates, unconscious, in a coma or brain-dead at a given moment in time with Maduro and Cabello saying he had had meetings with him on State matters, or that he was “fighting for dear life” while the doctors had given up all hope on him.

    Even the more than half-fascist Franquistas were more honest about their own leader (who is still fighting for dear death.) and had more consideration for this country than this f***ing band of thieves.

        • But, you DID mention Maduro and Cabello in your statement! Actually, I hope that they ALL rot in hell, whenever they die. Hopefully, that will happen sooner than later.

  8. All this is just a “side show!” It’s the ECONOMY, stupid!” Whatever the outcome of Chavez, elections, military actions, crime, etc. it isn’t only Chavez’s health that’s sinking down the maelstrom, it’s the economy and with it, the futility of anybody trying to save the Chavismo charade.

  9. Algo está pasando …

    Para qué movilizan una columna de tanquetas y de tiunas por todo Maracaibo via Lara-Zulia a las 2pm? Para causar rumores /sean serios

    Hace minutos recogieron al “hombre invisible” en La Orchila, va vía la Habana …
    El anuncio esta muy cerca, comienzan a llamar a personas claves, iglesia, políticos, banqueros y otros, todos menos al pueblo ….
    Preparan las principales ciudades del país para el anuncio, nadie puede saber que va suceder!!! …

    RT @Rog_Jimenez: militares siendo transportados a caracas en unidades de PDVSA

    equipos de transmisión para la inauguración de la capilla en el hospimili

  10. My bet is that they are preparing, aside from the post mortem show, a pre mortem unfolding: describing a perfect last moments with perfect last words for their soap opera loving audience longing for a sunset ending. This way, anything the opposition does or says to tarnish the facade will be used to paint the opposition as a cold-hearted monster, rather than the wake-up call truthseeker it seems to have chosen to be.

    • Particularly ironic (horrific) considering that Castros postponed what were clearly necessary treatments, so Chavez could appear hale and hearty during the campaign…

    • The best one can counter to that is: The whole story shall eventually be known. The whole story. What Hugo Chavez did, what the Castros did, what the chavista higher ups did. Where exactly life-saving or pain-killing treatment was withheld. Where they lied to Venezuelans.

      • The problem with that counter is that it falls right into their plans, truthseekers with ill-intent, versus perfect ending with love. The followers *want* to believe…

        • It’s nothing about the man they love and revere (eech!). It’s about what they, Diosdado and Nicolas -who were not loved but only tolerated by chavistas in spite of their obvious corruption and their gray, soporific personas- did to him when they had the opportunity.

  11. I am starting to believe in the theory of Chavez’s immortality. The government will never declare the guy’s death. Why would they anyway? Or you really still think that, as my father says, ” que se va a armar el peo”? – Yeah right – We Venezuelans are such idiots we’ll just continue living our lives as if nothing were happening.
    And in 2019, a virtual Chavez will launch his candidacy and will win elections again. Venezuelans will know that he is dead -we are not that stupid!- but as long as we are receiving our respective bag of rice every month -courtesy of the revolution- we won’t mind being accomplices to the biggest farce this country has ever witnessed.

    …The love for Chavez is a fiction, tis all about the money and the bolsas de harina pan.

  12. And yet 60% think he will raise from the dead ! how pathetic – probably the same % who is following the breakup of the starlet and the baseball player like it’s some kind of news.

  13. One day he is in full command, submerged in the details of government, taking decisions, discussing policy ( even though he cant speak or breathe) the next he is at deaths door battling for his survival and all must pray desperately for his life , he isnt in condition to make his swearing in but his recovery is just arround the corner, this constant change in the description of his condition must have a purpose , he is absconded because he can neither be seen by anyone but his closest family or political elects but references to him are constant pathetic and highly publicized , there is a bit of chaos in how his image is presented in different formats . Lets look at the possible explanations :
    1,- his successors have become genuinely unhinged by the prospect of his forthcoming death.and cant organize themselves effectively for the ocassion ..
    2.- they are as yet unprepared to sort out the internal logitistical details of the change and need more time to do it , .
    3.- they re playing a game to bring to maximum pitch the passionate grief of his common followers on his death so as to get more electoral mileage from the event .
    4.- They re engaged in a war of nerves with the opposition, to confuse their minds with all kind of wild suppositions and conjectures .
    5.- More time is needed to let the image of Maduro as president sink in deeper in the collective mind and in the mind of the people who within the regime must learn to obey him.
    6.- They want to take peoples attention away from the devaluation and its implications and phocus them on the bathos and drama of Chavez prolonged agony.
    All of the above is hogwash , the important things to keep in mind is: that he is the head of state , that he is very seriously ill, that his illness is of a kind that prevents a normal men from exercising the powers of president , that detailed knowledge about his condition is of interest to all Venezuelans and that as per the simplest of logics there must be an independent medical assesment of his health condition and prospects to be divulged to all Venezuelans . The oppositions job is simply to insist that it is not legitimate for all knowledge of the presidents condition to be controlled by a small group of his inmediate circle and that it behoofs the nation to know more about the real state of his health .

    • I believe you’re onto something with #5, besides the other points you raise. Meanwhile, I don’t know how Maduro et al will be able to rule without being driven crazy by media hounds, as well as ‘tuirer’. After revealed the La Orchila location, flight tracking has revealed that Ch. was picked up by a PDVSA plane, which wasn’t even turned off, before flying to Havana.

      As for your #3, the ‘consultants’ to officialdom recommend that Hugo Chávez be reincarnated as a Christ-like figure. Hence the recent verbiage from Maduro, that he “died because he gave everything for el pueblo”.

  14. If Bocaranda’s 10:30 pm report is to be believed, then Ch’s breathing deficiencies continue, his temp. is up to 37.5, BP 6/8, left lung capacity reduced by 40%.

  15. This whole thread is absurd. We do not know whether Chavez is alive, or not. We don’t know where he is.

    Why is that? Why do we not know? That is the more important question. Whatever the truth is, what is important is that the message discipline coming from the government is appallingly bad. It indicates that no one is fully in charge. These situations can implode quickly.

  16. The opposition should stand back and let the chavistas flail about and deal with the loss of their demi-god and the ongoing economic corrections/crisis. The worst the opposition can do is make it easier for the chavista lieutenants to rally and unite their people against the ‘treasonous reactionaries’.

    • So….silence, when people may be looking for leadership?

      No competing explanation of how this current economic crisis came to be?

      • Lucia,

        I agree. Even if it is not going to make a difference, the Opposition should be telling everyone the truth about the economic situation, even if it is bad news. Even if it is not going to get them elected this time. They should outline a plan for a recovery, explain that it is going to painful, but offer that it will create the conditions for a better future for their children, and for the whole country.

  17. dedicating to Hugo…
    Someone’s painting black everything that hasnt yet been dark But in the black window there is something white, it seems like A kerchief that’s seen even far distance off. Troubles don’t vanish, They just slip away, wish There was a hope waving Me with its hand. Go step by step and, Whatever has happened, One night there may be Peace with no end. Well, I can see no longer green grass under my feet, I can see no more yellow paths under my feet, Even the blue sky up above my head I can’t see. There is someone to tackle their black deals with hands dressed in dark gloves But while I can see this white flame flickering in the darkness Nothing really evil can happen to me. Troubles don’t vanish, They just slip away, wish There was a hope waving Me with its hand. Go step by …
    [ a translation from Vera’s original]


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here