The Omnishambles Begins (Updated)


And now, the Wall Street Journal hits us with this gem:

Some experts said the Venezuelans may have a difficult time preserving Mr. Chavez’s body unless the right chemicals were injected immediately after death.

“This is not something you do two or three days after someone dies,” said Camilo Jaramillo, a Colombian embalming expert and member of the American Association of Embalmers.

Mr. Jaramillo said that the process for trying to preserve a body for the long-term is also different than embalming a corpse for a few days or weeks. “If they have done this on a temporary basis, they may have a hard time doing it for the long term, because it’s a different set of chemicals,” he said, adding that he didn’t think Venezuela had those chemicals.

Countries like Colombia and Venezuela don’t have a culture of embalming, and there are few experts, according to Mr. Jaramillo.

He also said the corpses need regular maintenance and an environment where humidity, light and temperature are strictly controlled. That could be a problem in Venezuela, which has regular electricity blackouts.

Now I honestly don’t give a rat’s ass what they choose to do with the guy’s body. It’s their muerto, if they want to put him on permanent display in the Aladino that’s fine by me. But you’d think, think, somebody would’ve thought the plan through ahead of time.

Sure, Maduro said that he didn’t even want to think about the possibility of Chávez dying, and so refused to plan for it. That’s a nice sentiment and all, but we’re talking about an evidently agonizing terminal cancer patient! What’s the next thing Maduro doesn’t even want to think about? That social spending levels are unsustainable? That the jails are still murderous shitholes? What?

I mean, the government reacted as if Chávez dropped dead out of the blue, of a sudden heart attack! Jeezum crow the entire country just spent the last four months talking about little else. Government insiders knew much more than we did, and still didn’t have a proper plan in place!

Let’s review the score. Over the last 72 hours we’ve heard not one, not two, but three different, mutually incompatible plans for what they intend going to do with the body.

First, before the guy had even died, Maduro vowed to convene a scientific panel of experts to prove that his cancer had been the product of an attack. (Classy detail, too, telling us you’re convening a “fact-finding panel” and, at the same time, that you have “no doubt whatsoever” about what it will find!)

Then they announced plans for a more-or-less traditional ceremony-and-burial. And then – but, ojo, only after it was too late – they announce plans to embalm him…forgetting, of course, that the embalming chemicals would destroy the evidence that the scientific-panel-with-a-predetermined-outcome was supposed to look for.

Chamo, Maduro isn’t even up to handling the single most predictable (and predicted!) event in recent memory – something he had months to prepare for, where the set of options facing him was limited and predictable, and where no resistance could be expected from any quarter. How is he supposed to handle, y’know, the country?!

[Hat tip: Lucia]

Update: A previous version of this post contained a picture some of our readers found offensive. Our apologies.

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    • I have photos of my mom embracing dr. knoche’s mummies. She used to belong to Centro de Excursionistas de Caracas and when theynwere trekking on the side of Galipán they walked upon this very creepy site. With embalmed dogs guarding the entrance.inside they found the mummies of Dr Knoche’s family on the set table and/or lying on the beds. O.o c r e e p y The medicine faculty students took them away.

      • It is fascinating that the mummified bodies survived the elements (humidity) up in Galipan for such a long time. The good Dr. knew his stuff. I don’t think an Egyptian mummy would not have lasted more than a few weeks under those conditions.

  1. A photo of a rotting piece of meat on the occasion of Chavez’s death. Once again, Carcass Chronicles is keepin’ it classy!

    • This post is the least of it.
      Over the years I grew more and more to think Chavez really sucked. And nothing changes that – he blew a lot of oppertunities and made some really inexcusable mistakes and let many of his decision be dictated by his ego and lust for power.
      But when I stop and listen to those who opposed him, or at least those who oppose him and have a megaphone, I realize once again for all his faults he was almost always the better alternative.

        • When a voice of supposedly responsible opposition (Quico Toro) runs a picture of rotting meat in reference to Chavez’s body in the immediate wake of his death, there’s something wrong. If people don’t get that there’s something wrong with this, then I think that says something about the kinds of people who frequent this blog.

          • I agree with OW that Chavez was responsible for a number of policy failures, but this post is just not befitting of a person with basic etiquette and sound judgement (intellectual or otherwise). I dropped by here expecting better.

          • Sigh… The hypocrisy of a Chavista sympathizer offended by the opposition talking about how much Hugo’s body WILL rotten DUE not because of Quico Toro’s bad wishes BUT BECAUSE of handling the death of Hugo the same way they have handled everything else. That’s Chavismo for you. You know, you should talk about how come the Chavista machinery is taking Hugo’s wishes to be buried in Barinas and cleaning their asses with it, instead they will show him like a trophy, and the place, not to hard to imagine, will become a mess in a few years, with rotten body included. What can I say, it’s Cacacas Chronicles kid’s lack of sensitivity the one to blame.

            You miss the point of the whole post, Justin. And hi, btw, so long, same as I remember. :/

          • Yeah, I guess that’s as wrong as a public official like Hugo Chavez making jokes about a bishop’s death and afterlife. Maybe Hugo Chavez met him There. Or as wrong as ministers making jokes about the deaths of other people.

          • Or just as wrong as making fun of Franklin Brito while he was dying protesting for the Inti stealing his farm. There was no-one from the Regimen crying out for RESPECT then !

            Justin, as was said by Chavez himself the day after more than 50 people died in Amuay in an uncontrolled Gas Explosion due to criminal incompetence: “El Show debe continuar” (the show must go on). That sure was a high point of consideration and respect for the families.

            The picture that hit your sensibility so hard pales in comparison on the abuse, cynicism and insults to others that thought different or did not yield to the power of the government.

            Funny – your reaction is not unlike the government reaction to the picture of the dozens of piled up bodies in the morgue printed by El Nacional. You object to the picture, not to the cluster fuck that is responsible for creating the conditions portrayed in the picture.

        • If the government’s reaction to the reporting on Bello Monte morgue is any indication, it is not the dehumanizing conditions in death that are the outrage, it is the reporting on it. In that respect, your “bourgeois” prudery is well placed. Having seen dead bodies in the streets in Venezuela, many of us can handle the bread picture.

        • OMG…get a clue. What is better to have a badly embalmed mummy on display on whim? To preserve the dream? To keep the flame going for Castro’s new boy?

    • Fuck yes. This is an affront. You gotta keep it classy and nice and invite people like Obiang to the funeral.

      That will honor his memory and his struggle for freedom and peace around the world.

  2. I am sorry Quico, but are you surprised. Chaviztas are the champions of improvisation. When the Castros convinced Maduro that Chavez wish of a burial in Sabaneta under ” la mata de mamon en la casa de mi abuela” was not the best thing for his election and the long term well being of Cuba they forgot that Cubans don’t know how to embalm people because Fidel is not dead yet.

    • The thing is, I keep hearing that chavismo is morphing into a type of religion, and that’s surely right on some level. Well, here is the holy founder’s body, the key trophy, the relic called on to play a central role in the ritualization of the future of the faith…if ever I expected them to actually plan, it was on something like this!

      • Chavismo has been a cult for quite some time. Only before it had a thin crust of secularism. Now, they’ve finally lost la chaveta and have become a religious cult.

      • Sinceramente, you want to think that’s the one thing they cannot fuck up. But looks like they cannot make anything right. In essence, that’s the essence of Chavismo. It’s crazy that the monster that Hugo created is chewing him badly as we speak. Kinda diabolical I have to say.

        This story, of all, is the one that really surprises me. And the family of Hugo. The daughters who seem they have a lot of love for their father, the way they all are okay with his father’s wishes not to be fulfilled. It’s crazy.

      • There’s been rumors (or reports) that Massimo Signoracci has been to Cuba in January, but it’s probably concidence.

  3. Maybe they can still practice some Egyptian Style momification, even an uneducated moron like Maduro or his elite personnel can Google that up..

  4. Well that is one thing a religion could use: after some time the body gets up and moves: of course in this case it would be flyblown, not quite the second coming.

  5. On the BBC this morning, there was a piece on the subject of embalming, especially of those who led and characterized “revolutions”, ie., Lenin, Stalin, etc. The idea of their ideology becoming an actual “religion” was brought up, that to have their ideology continue on after the death of the leader, “the people” NEEDED to be able to see, with their own eyes, that their beloved leader lived on long after his death. Creepy…

    • My problem with that theory, unless Maduro was not allowed to see him, is that Maduro’s sobbing on announcing Chávez’ death came across as very sincere, very heartfelt.

      As well, Ma Gabriela, did not seem as emotionally stricken during the gathering, following the inauguration of the Capilla de la Esperanza, as she has been in the past few days — like her world has fallen apart.

        • I think those details are very important because they paint a very very different picture of the people that may have been involved.
          Either they truthful and discreet or they are incredibly Machiavellian.

    • As further evidence of this, note that Chavez was pronounced dead on March 5 at 4:30 pm. The next morning he had a really nice casket ride on top of a truck on a warm sunny day to the museo militar. Yes, morticians could have spent the night embalming and preparing the still warm corpse but it seems to have been awfully quick. The morticians would have been waiting to be very close to museo. In addition, all evidence of Chavez disease would have to be erased

    • I’m thinking the December 31 drama, calling off all NYE parties, etc was the night he really died. Why isn’t the mainstream press picking up on the inconsistencies (lies) of the time of death, the hot long ride in a coffin 16 hours later, and then the appearance of an apparently already embalmed HCF lying in state for all the world to see?

  6. I seriously doubt that the coffin we saw on the streets had Chavez’s body inside. Most likely it was just a symbolical thing.

    Furthermore, I have the feeling that they had already embalmed the cadaver for good as soon as he died. And I am not talking about conventional 2-3 days embalming. I am talking Lenin-like embalming.

    Last week my mother told me that there were rumors about chavismo flying an embalming expert from Europe to Cuba days before Chavez’s demise. Back then I just dismissed the idea and considered it ludicrous. But under the light of what’s transpiring, I’m thinking otherwise.

    My bet is that the whole “we didn’t think about that” is just part of the pre-electoral ruse. By pretending shock by the suggestion of embalming, they show Maduro as a man in deep sorrow, quite the opposite of the cold-blooded opportunist that is using a dead body to ride the wave into an electoral victory that he is…

  7. >>> … we’ve heard not one, not two, but three different, mutually incompatible plans for what they intend going to do with the body.

    Well we can scratch cryonics out. Cryonics procedures ideally begin within minutes of cardiac arrest, and use cryoprotectants to prevent ice formation during cryopreservation.

    • more importantly, how can you possibly consider cryonics in a country where no one can depend on the proper maintenance of an energy flow (electrical).

        • 🙂
          You know, I used to toy with the idea of Divine
          retribution sent on him for the malintenciones
          he used to heap a diestra y siniestra …
          but now I’m heaping scorn on a soulless piece of chilled
          meat … I gotta let go, it’s becoming an obsession …

  8. Chavez has been dead post-op since late December from an “infarto fulminante” (read in- between the lines of the declaration of Grl. Jose Ornella, Jefe de La Guardia Presidencial, who was there at his time of death, in “El Nacional, Nacion, P.3, today, March 8”- some techno-savvy reader of this Blog can probably bring up the exact article). His permanent embalming began soon afterward, with the visit in early January, 2013, to Cuba of Massimo Signoracci, Italian, who had preserved the remains of Juan Pablo II (“El Nacional, Nacion, P.2, Lissette Cardona, March 8”.

  9. ¨ Maduro isn’t even up to handling the single most predictable (and predicted!) event in recent memory –..something he had months to prepare for,…. How is he supposed to handle, y’know, the country?!¨
    My point, before the ´98 election was exactly that, Chavez had been preparing for the ´92 coup forever -by his own account-, a military action for which he had been professionally trained, and yet he failed.
    Guess the acorn doesn´t fall far from the tree.

  10. It was probably a conscious decision. Planning for a funeral/embalming could risk the “secret” of Chavez’s health. Which for some reason in their twisted numb-witted minds this outcome was a better outcome than: a) have a different candidate without a terminal disease. b) properly inform the public about Chavez’s real condition once elected and do all it was required.

    • Personally, if I were a Chavista I would be so offended they way the others have treated my dear leader. But maybe that’s the reason I am not a Chavista sympathizer. Bunch of thugs. Something else I have been looking around, what type of cancer Hugo had and why it’s such a mystery? I don’t understand why they keep his cancer a secret.

  11. Seeing all this Circus of commie god-making, the first thing that came to my mind is “I suppose I can stand with the Socialists who are also rationalists, I do suppose they are as disgusted as I am at this pseudo-fascist pageant of death and mythmaking”. The second was “Who cares? Who, that cares about reason rather than magical thinking could bring him or herself to care or watch?”

    If they do it well, it’s still a retarded Circus for retards. We shall have leisure to dissect it as well as to give a proper and sober burial or cremation to the subject of it.

    If they botch it, it’s a retarded Circus for retards that went south. And it shall be amusing, then. Very.

    • Justin, please put your finger-wagging to best use. Go and stand before the Bello Monte morgue and decry one of, if not the highest rate of homicides in the world.

    • Oh and Justin, how about really understanding what “crass” is all about?

      Try wagging your finger at your fellow chavistas/maduristas who don’t want to admit what happened the other day: the parading of an empty coffin among the crowds to fool the poor people into believing that Chávez was in it.

      Try wagging your finger at your fellow chavistas/maduristas who saw nothing wrong with not installing hygenic facilities along the route for the thousands who came to mourn Chávez. Pero eso sí, facilities are well installed when the current government wants to use these same people to get their votes and thereby remain in office.

      You take your g-d crassness somewhere else, you pathetic worm. And I don’t believe for a minute that you’re suffering from Hugo Chávez demise.

  12. So…will any of his supporters have, you know, a religious problem with this?

    And how does it fit into Ahmadinejad’s prediction that Chavez will rise again, alongside Christ and the Mahdi?

    How does that work, exactly, if you’re embalmed? Sounds kind of….sticky.

  13. Where are all the chavista commenters who blasted us for saying Chavez was going to die, and laughed at us whenever Chavez made a rare appearance.

  14. Or they could find a Chavez look-alike, murder him, as they have killed many others, and then bring a top scientist to do the embalming properly now.


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