ABC: the coffin on parade was empty


ABCSpanish newspaper ABC has been relentless in its reporting on Hugo Chávez’s health. Now, on the heels of Chávez’s funeral, journalist Emili Blasco launches an explosive allegation: the coffin they paraded through Caracas was empty, Chávez died in Havana, and while the coffin was being paraded, they were preparing the real body in the basement of the Military Hospital.

Relying on various unnamed military sources, Blasco claims the body was brought from Havana after Chávez died at 7 in the morning on Tuesday. They brought the body back via La Carlota, and took it to Fuerte Tiuna to prepare it while the fake coffin was being paraded. When the parade ended, they did the switcheroo, with some people noticing the coffins were different.

Why would they do this? Apparently, they did not want to risk the procession damaging the actual body.

Now, you may wonder about the importance of all this. Who cares, right? Either way, he’s gone.

Well, this election is about Maduro. If the opposition can prove that Maduro & Co. fooled – disrespected, really – chavistas into thinking the coffin contained the Comandante, they won’t be so willing to go out and vote for him.

I have no way of knowing which version is true or not, and I’m on the record at being very skeptical about crazy conspiracy theories, but even Chávez’s defenders and I have to admit ABC and Blasco have gained some credibility after its thorough pursuit of this story.

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  1. Just give it some time. Given the amount of people who know the true details, chances are that someone will spill the beans when the issue becomes irrelevant. That is, not before the election.

  2. Today Bocaranda writes en El Universal that he died in Vzla after being disconnected at aprox 15h. The family was ready to do so since the 22 of feb, but discrepancies between the mother and his daughter’s delayed the decision.
    I saw those different coffins and wouldn’t put it past machiavelian Castro who is the brains behind Maduro’s election. But… Will the chavistas believe the charge? I think the castrodefacto newly appointed unconstitutional presidente will come out denouncing them as lies from the fascist ultraright. And the masses that spent 7 hours in the sun will believe them, just so as not not to feel so “had”. …again.
    “Play it again Sam” ( from Casablanca)

  3. Well, ABC’s record is mixed at best. Now the body came back from Cuba…but wait, a week ago he told us the body was in La Orchila…so…What was the deal with that Orchila story?

    Sure, it’s fun to publish stuff with a single anonymous source and no confirmation. But do that all the time and you’re going to get a lot of shit wrong. I have no particular way of knowing if, in this instance, their one anonymous source had it right or wrong…

  4. The importance is that these people are compulsive liars. Seems they can not do anything at all without lying. For them is a normal procedure, a modus operandi, if there are no lies involved then is not complete. Seems to be the true legacy of Chavez.

    I’m not sure about the two coffins because I haven’t been able to find the picture on the left side on google, so I don’t know if it’s from this funeral or not.

  5. I think this is probably just one of many facts waiting to leak out. How long before a Cuban is tempted by freedom or money to reveal what was really going on…and when and where Chavez really died!

  6. Wouldn’t the fact that this would also mean they lied about his flight to Caracas before he died also offend chavistas?

  7. The guy died and was put in a coffin right away, no embalming, right? They, then, took him in a 8 hours walk under a tropical sun. After that, he is laid out for viewing for 2 days and it is now that they are taking him to be embalmed?

  8. The other significant thing about the story is that the Venezuelan military is feeling comfortable enough talking to foreign media. That suggests Maduro’s grip on the military is not as strong as he would like.

    As Quico said yesterday in our chat: the return of politics?

  9. Actually, abstaining from parading the actual corpse could be taken as the only sensible decision they’ve made thus far regarding it’s final journey. It would’ve just been unnecessarily risky considering the dead comandante still has a long way to go before they finally decide to stop abusing him. I could see a few people being pissed off, but they should easily recognize the act as largely symbolic.

  10. I would take out the pics of the coffin if I were you. It’s obvious from the flag that it’s just two different sides. They don’t prove it’s the same coffin, but on the other hand they prove nothing.

    • Seriously. So the coffin looks different on the front than it does on the back. This proves… uh, what exactly?

    • In this video you can see both ends of the coffin (from 4:30).

      The photo on the left may be from another funeral, not Chavez.

      • Seriously? The orchestra/band that was playing was just AWFUL! I know that Dudamel’s upbringing made a difference in his output, but, where did THIS crap come from? It sounded like it was coming from a junior HS band!

        • I suppose it was the cadetes that were tocando musiquita. And that had a certain poignant charm. It was also symbolic in a country, where the maxim ‘practice makes perfect’, where pride of workmanship and competence get routinely drowned out by the need to improvise. #esloquehay

      • At the risk of utter disrespect: the pall-bearers look like they are about to trip any moment. Yes, that is awful music, maybe they wanted to awake the deceased

  11. Emili gets a lot from Noriega and his Venezuelan cohorts. I also know that my source spoke with him to set the record straight. My source says he died in Havana and was flown in before the announcement. My source went public. Bocaranda threw another version and he’s usually reliable but so is my source who know Nelson too. This one is really fucked up and confusing

  12. The iron lock on information makes me wonder whether the truth will ever come out. However, the fact that the truth might be known by a handfull of the Chavez inner circle, who could someday become enemies, then the truth could become a weapon.

  13. ” If the opposition can prove that Maduro & Co. fooled – disrespected, really – chavistas into thinking the coffin contained the Comandante, they won’t be so willing to go out and vote for him.”

    Please, stop the wishful thinking. People were lied to for months, if not years, about the health of Chávez. And they are happy to vote for the liars, for the ones that “lo tenían engañado”. And you think that they are going to change their minds because of this? No, they’ll rationalize it somehow.

    • Real talk. And never underestimate the lengths people go to in order to rationalize those things. It gets so meta that you don’t even know how to tell the cynical from the earnest ones.

      • I just watch them rationalizing the embalming with Chavez’ words in 2009 about embalming. It’s fascinating the mind twists they do. Depressing too.

        • How does that work? as far as I’m concerned he believed that, barring scientific research, displaying an unburied body was an immorality.

          • Remeber when Chavez closed down the Bodies exhibit? He said it was inmoral to exhibit dead bodies, so?

          • Yes, I remember. That’s what I’m referring to. But I reckon that his will was to be buried in Sabaneta and, from the reports we’ve been getting from his successors, it seems that embalming/displaying was not his idea and something that they came up with after he died.

      • I don’t think they like it, I just think they don’t care.

        I actually think there’s almost nothing that would change their minds

        • It’s been almost 15 years and everything we thought would make them change their minds has 1. happened, and 2. failed to change their minds. My conclusion is that their tolerance is high enough to let anything pass as long as it doesn’t have a noticeable and direct effect on their own personal situation. And, even then, there’s always “más vale malo…”

    • BTW,
      has anyone noticed that the
      many colored armband makes the
      buen mozo vicepresidente look dashing?
      and even transforms him into a
      handsome hitleriano archtype?
      Do I spy a new fashion trend?

  14. The funniest thing is that nobody here is really thinking that Capriles is going to win.
    Most of us are quite sure that Maduro will, thanks to the sympathy vote and because the comandante “asked them to do so”.

      • I suspect that there will be an empty chair: There will be no opposition candidate. Given Capriles’ pronouncement today that the swearing-in was fraudulent, I believe that he is not going to run as he knows quite well that he does not have un pelín de posibildad de ganar las elecciones.

        • With the cards stacked so high against him, with the Armed Forces pledging their loyalty to making sure Maduro wins, can you blame him?

  15. Chamo el que se tiene que preparar para el joropo es Maduro luego de que herede el desastre en que está hecho el país.

  16. Didn’t ABC say Chavez was in la Orchila at some point?
    All these Spanish newspapers have no credibility regarding their coverage of Chavez illness. They published way too many crazy stories that proved to be untrue. If the New York Times, WSJ or even Miami Herald (although I don’t fully trust this last one either) had published this, it would be different.
    Now, if it does turn out to be true, I think it would be a big blow to Maduro’s credibility. Venezuelans (even Chavistas) can be fooled easily, but when they find out indisputably that they have been lied to, they don’t react well. One example of this was the government’s lie about there being no devaluation.

    • “They published way too many crazy stories that proved to be untrue.”

      Show them. Show the stories, and the links. And this is not about Spanish newspapers, this is about ABC and Emili Blasco.

      • More than just untrue (which in the end is very hard to prove), the stories are patently contradictory. Which might even be worse. If you are gonna publish one thing one day and a week later something that patently contradicts it, I just can’t believe any of the stories. For instance, this story published by Emili Blasco on March 3:

        “Hugo Chávez habría sido trasladado hace varios días a su residencia presidencial de la isla de La Orchila, con el fin de pasar en un entorno familiar los últimos compases de su enfermedad.”

        “Chávez llegó de La Habana el 18 de febrero con sus condiciones vitales estables. Durante su tiempo en el Hospital Militar estuvo consciente, pero sus problemas respiratorios se fueron agravando, con la necesidad de volver a utilizar ventilación artificial para facilitar la respiración. Esa complicación desbarató cualquier posible intento de acto de juramentación en privado.”

      • Juan’s not the brightest guy. You can show him a million times that a source isn’t reliable, but he believes what he wants to believe regardless.

        Just ask him about Consultores 21…

        • NYZolano said they published “way too many” crazy stories that proved to be untrue.

          Juan asked for examples. NYZolano then posts one link that isn’t contradictory* anyway. By “way too many” one would assume there are at least a few easily available yet you decide this is enough to insult a blog contributor. Sounds like it’s YOU that needs to ‘get a clue’.

          * even if it was, news gets updated all the time. The BBC ‘stealth edits’ stuff that it didn’t get quite right first time round.

        • Can you imagine the mental torture of a PSF like GAC? Here’s someone, who has been defending, for so long, a regime on the basis of its love and justice for the poor. Only to find that all that love+justice is phonier than a 2-dollar bill. Only to find that the poor exist solely as electoral fodder, with a few trinkets to appease in the interim. Only to find that the regime has disdain for the poor it lies to and disrespects. Why bother providing for sufficient hygenic facilities? They’re poor, they wouldn’t know the difference. Why not parade a phony casket? The poor wouldn’t know the difference.

          Reality for these PSFs can be such a ‘balde’ of cold water on long-held fantasies. Hence the insults.

  17. They always lie, and manipulate things, even a funeral. they will continue to do so and cheat again in the next elections. Capriles has no chance. The Chavez left-over vulture are starved for more power and more corruption, they will do anything and everything to grab the power and continue to steal the millions, And half of the uneducated, naive and also corrupted populace will buy into it, sad, but true.

  18. EN ESPANHOL – REPORTE COMPLETO: Durante más de siete horas, durante el largo cortejo fúnebre del miércoles, los venezolanos que llenaron las calles de Caracas lloraron ante un féretro en el que no iba el cuerpo de Hugo Chávez. Es la versión de varios militares conocedores del dispositivo de traslado, que aseguran que el cadáver del presidente venezolano fue transportado de Cuba a Fuerte Tiuna, complejo de Defensa donde se encuentra la Academia Militar. El «cambiazo» se produjo en el sótano de esa institución, cuando llegó allí el falso féretro al término de la procesión. Fue el único momento en que las cámaras de televisión lo perdieron de vista.
    La versión de esos militares, comunicada a ABC a petición de mantener su anonimato, confirma además la información ya avanzada por este diario de que Chávez murió en Cubay no en Caracas, como insiste el Gobierno venezolano. El engaño de la procesión supone un nuevo montaje del Gobierno, sumándose a la larga lista de mentiras con que el chavismo ha llenado los últimos meses de vida de su líder. En realidad, el objetivo no era tanto burlar al pueblo, como su utilización política. «Querían mostrar un baño de multitudes con un claro interés político, permitiendo que la gente pudiera hasta tocar el féretro, el falso, sin poner en riesgo la integridad física del verdadero; no iban permitir que este, por lo que fuera, se cayera, cuando además parte de su estructura interna es de vidrio», indica una de las personas al tanto de las circunstancias del traslado.
    De hecho, según destacan esas fuentes, tras producirse el cambio en el sótano de la Academia Militar, la seguridad alrededor del ataúd pasó a ser estricta, sin que se permitiera acercarse a nadie de la manera en que había ocurrido durante la marcha. A partir de ahí todo pasó a ser solemne, sin el desorden populista visto en el recorrido por la ciudad.
    Estaba también el criterio de la conservación del cadáver. Someterlo a siete horas al calor de Caracas, cuando tenía que ser expuesto al público durante varios días antes de su sepultura, no era lo más aconsejable.
    Al Hospitalito
    Después de que Chávez falleciera el martes hacia las 7 de la mañana, hora local de La Habana, como ya desveló ABC, el cadáver del presidente fue llevado por la noche al aeropuerto venezolano de La Carlota, la Base Aérea Generalísimo Francisco de Miranda, según aseguran los militares informantes. La Carlota está en el interior de Caracas, más cerca de Fuerte Tiuna que el aeropuerto internacional de Maiquetía. De allí fue conducido al Hospitalito, el centro médico de ese complejo castrense, en el que se encuentra el Ministerio de Defensa. Su nombre se debe al menor tamaño comparado con el Hospital Militar, situado a unos 7 kilómetros, en otro lado de la ciduad. A unos doscientos metros del Hospitalito está la Academia Militar.
    En el Hospitalito, que posee una morgue, se abrió el féretro, se revisó el estado en que había llegado el cuerpo tras el vuelo y se concluyó la labor de vestirlo con el uniforme militar. En algún momento del miércoles el ataúd fue transportado al sótano de la Academia Militar.
    Un féretro similar, vacío o con algún peso en su interior, fue llevado al Hospital Militar, de donde el miércoles por la mañana partió la procesión popular. Cuando esta llegó a la Academia, durante un rato la señal televisiva perdió de vista el ataúd. La excusa fue que había que adecentar el féretro, como quitarle las flores y otras cosas que el pueblo había arrojado o reposicionar la bandera que lo cubría. El que surgió de nuevo ante las cámaras, no ya sobre la plataforma de un coche fúnebre, sino a hombros de militares y otras autoridades, era el ataúd verdadero, que luego se abriría en la capilla ardiente.
    Al parecer, en el ínterin, en privado, un reducido grupo de personas especialmente allegadas –la familia y probablemente los presidentes de Argentina, Bolivia y Uruguay, presentes también luego en la ceremonia pública celebrada en esa Academia Militar- tuvieron un acto íntimo.
    Aunque la televisión venezolana no mostró ningún plano cercano del féretro cuando este fue abierto para el adiós público, diversas personas que acudieron a despedirse de los restos del presidente indicaron que lo habían visto ligeramente hinchado y sin pelo, nada que ver con las falsas fotografías difundidas por el Gobierno hace tres semanas. De sitio web de lo diário ABC de España

  19. The opposition still believes this is a game were both parts are playing under the same rules.When will they wake up and realize it is not and neves will be a fair game?

  20. Capriles is still naive, this game is being played under different rules by each player. It is very difficult to get rid of his opponent by fair rules

  21. I think he spoke very courageously and assertively. If he doesn’t speak out he gets it and if he doesn’t he also gets it. At least chavistas back each other to the death… I mean the embalming!


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