Original art by @modográfico

Every Venezuelan remembers where they were that day.

The country had been in the dark about the health of a man who, for 13 years, ruled through his domineering personality. Mysterious trips back and forth to Havana, news conferences by Ernesto Villegas, an infamous set of pictures with his daughters. Many thought he was just faking it, another of his rabo e’ cochinos.

On March 5, 2013, I was sitting with my sister in the living room making a rocket with a plastic bottle. My mom and my stepfather arrived, told us the news and we turned on the TV. Nicolás Maduro was announcing that Hugo Chávez was officially dead.

We feared for the future. For two thirds of my life, I lived in a country where everything moved by his will. The government, the economy, the media, every small talk, every thought, dream, nightmare, it was all related somehow to the comandante (now) eterno. Venezuela without Chávez was inconceivable.

Nobody thought Nicolás Maduro would end his term, let alone be candidate for reelection. María Gabriela? Sure. Diosdado? Likely. But Maduro? That bumbling, awkward oaf who can’t even speak right?

Five long years have passed since Hugo was put on display at the place where he surrendered in 1992. It feels like a decade or two; we’ve witnessed massive protests, the collapse of oil prices, the healthcare system, the infrastructure and the economy. And the meteoric rise of the world’s largest inflation.

It’s 2018 and people still say it’s just matter of time. Maduro is up for reelection, and Chávez’ still here.

The government, instead of falling apart, closed ranks, growing more desperate and open about its oppressive nature. The opposition, going against any forecast, won the legislature only to squander it, losing its dignity along the way. Meanwhile, thousands of Venezuelans spread around the globe, taking their homeland as a lost cause.

It’s 2018 and people still say it’s just matter of time. Maduro is up for reelection, and Chávez’ still here. Not in his body, but in the country he left behind: a Venezuela that suffers the logical outcome of a carrot-and-stick system designed to spin around an axis, making no difference if it moves around an authoritarian leader or a cardboard box to barely keep you alive.

Here we are, waiting for something to happen, as we were in 2013 while we watched thousands of mourners standing in line in Los Próceres to say goodbye to the only thing in that seemed reliable in the nation. Venezuela still feels like a wake for Hugo Chávez, with long lines of people filled with fear, wondering what will become of all of us.

I remember, after days of watching his funeral on TV, going to the kitchen on a Saturday morning, feeling dread about the future.

Then I heard the children downstairs playing basketball and it hit me. Hugo Chávez belonged to the past.

We, the living, still make history every day.

We buried Chávez, and his legacy is probably burying itself.

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20 COMMENTS

  1. We are probably in the lowest point of Post Chavismo right now. And for the first time for some of us, there comes the realization that the government is not going to implode any time soon. It’s impossible to feel positive.

    • The old line “we have a [stupid] bus driver for our President” ignores WHY Maduro became a bus driver. He was a Castro-trained operative who became a bus driver with the intention of becoming head of the bus drivers’ union. Which he did. If he was a doofus, he wouldn’t have accomplished his goal of becoming head of the bus drivers’ union.

      Speaking of transportation, I am reminded of Erdogan’s quote: “Democracy is like a train: when you reach your destination, you get off.” That pretty well describes Chavismo. While Chavismo used democracy to get into power, it abandoned democracy to stay in power.

      A hometown peer became an acolyte of Sai Baba. As did Maduro.

  2. Too bad most people have the date wrong, but as we all know that narrative is the one given by the regime.

    Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias died 30-DEC-2012 in Havana, Cuba.

    Y si digo que el burro es negro es porque tengo el pelo en las manos.

    Por favor no pidan como lo se. Decir algo pone en riesgo a la persona que me lo informo.

    Digamos que en su agencia hay 3 letras. Y no es la primera que se les viene a la mente.

  3. “his legacy is probably burying itself.”

    No it ain’t. His “legacy” is very much alive. Tragically so. In the minds of Millions of average, astonishingly ignorant pueblo-people who still swear by El Comandante Eterno, still adore him, venerate him, miss him. Yes, Millions do, today. I’d like to see a serious poll on that, how many still Love Chabestia, today? Half the population? 1/3rd, at least. That’s how wise they are.. how uneducated. That’s why Chavismo emerged in the first place, that’s why it’s still around, almost 20 years later, very much alive. Heck, it even crossed the borders of Latin American Galactic Cluelessness, to Colombia now, where Chavez II is strong, Brasil, Mexico, not to mention most of the Caribbean Leeches, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua.. All hit by the same plague due to their own lack of basic education.

    Now what’s the actual legacy NOT being ‘buried’? An entire wasted Generation. 5 Million of the best people the country once had. First to leave were people like many readers/writers here, usually the more productive, better educated, honest, skilled; the last million or so still leaving now: mostly average clueless people, left out of the guisos, who couldn’t find an Enchufe with the regime, no more Tigritos or Palancas, many of them still die-hard Chavistas by their own admission, tired of being hungry.

    5 Million, many of the best we had, when all is said and done, gone for good. The vast majority will never return, and those who might if/when jobs or new Guisos are created, are mostly the not-so-desirable clueless ones, the uneducated, unskilled, that left on foot accross the borders. This created in fact a deep generational gap. Damage is done. Listo el pollo. That’s part of the Pajarito’s Living Legacy. How will they replace that massive brain-drain that even Masburro just recognized (every student that graduates in what’s left of Klepto-Cubazuela’s Universities got the hell out, or is planning to as soon as they graduate, 90% I would guestimate.. not to mention the teachers, mostly gone too.

    That’s part of what destroys a country, Chabestia’s living Legacy. Besides a destroyed economy which will be forever in debt, zero infrastructure built in 2 decades, mining and environmental catastrophes everywhere, irreversible damage too, deep rooting and development of the Massive Latin American Drug Trade, (which no MUD will be able to get rid of), etc, etc. But worst of all, the destruction of Venezuela’s most important capital: the few educated, professional people it had. That takes Decades to start replacing. You have to properly educate an entire new generation, clueless, utterly brain-washed with Chavista populism crap, deprogram that entire generation, incorporate in into a new economy.. takes decades, if ever.

    No matter what MUD comes next, if they are lucky and the International Powers decide to save them from themselves, the remaining Venezuelans are utterly screwed for a long, long time. Eso se jodio. Venezuela will never be what it was, at least in the next 50 years. It would require a good dosis of tough love and MPJ to or a Pinochet to recover faster. That’s Chavez’s definitive, enduring legacy: the complete destruction of a country we used to love that no longer exists.

    • ““his legacy is probably burying itself.”

      No it ain’t. His “legacy” is very much alive. Tragically so. In the minds of Millions of average, astonishingly ignorant pueblo-people who still swear by El Comandante Eterno, still adore him, venerate him, miss him.”

      Actually, the legacy is pretty much alive because maduro is doing EXACTLY what shiabbe would have done hadn’t he been offed by the cubans in 2012.

  4. I naively danced like a happy little girl when he dropped dead, thinking things would now be different.

    Well, I’m still happy he dropped dead.

    • Chavez left himself be eaten by cancer, he knew the bad part of his revolution was coming, he was a narcisist and the image he had worldwide as the men that showed the world that socialism works and inside the country as the loving father of el pueblo, the poor peoples champion etc was important to him, also the whole die young live forever, going out when things was ¨good¨will give him a good chance to become a cult personality like Che Guevara and others socialist icons, hell Steve Jobs did the same thing and now Apple got a sheep-esque fanbase and a movie was made about him.

      • shiabbe squealed and cried like a pig when he was about to die from cancer, constantli wailing for everybody to not let him to die because he was God’s chosen in this world to carry his work and the only person in the world that mattered.

        Of course, the cubans as pieces of s**t they are, decided that they didn’t need someone who didn’t completely hand Venezuela to their sticky paws, so they offed him in 2012 and put that piece of garbage that’s maduro.

  5. Chavez memory may be idolized by some , but none of those that still idolize him feel feel anything but bitter dissapointment for the regime that he left behind, Maduro is his succesor in power but not in the simpathies of those that once loved Chavez , Maduro is almost universally loathed ……if he has held power it isnt because he is the least bit popular but because having control over the apparatus of power he has fraudently used it to establish himself the head of a hated dictatorship ……..sure if you have no scruples in using dirty tricks to win a game of cards you are never going to lose , that doesnt make you a great card player !! and Venezuela now is a ruin of a country , with hundreds of thousands fleeing the country , not just the cleverest and best educated but just anyone that humanly wants the possibility of a better life …??

    • Chavez memory may be idolized by some , but none of those that still idolize him feel feel anything but bitter dissapointment for the regime that he left behind…

      While they may despise Maduro, they don’t make the connection that Maduro is continuing Chavez’s policies. El Finado wouldn’t have used dirty tricks to undo losing a legislative election? Of course he would have!

      Yes, Venezuela’s economy is a disaster w $50 oil, but all the high price of oil did was to mask the underlying problems of the Chavista-mandated economy. Recall that from 1998 through 2013, when worldwide per capita income increased 40%, all the Chavista economy could produce was a per capita increase of 15% during that time- even with oil jumping from $11 to $100/BBL. But the fans of El Finado are completely unaware of how poorly the Venezuelan economy performed under the tutelage of their idol. They do not make the connection that the only difference between Maduro and El Finado is $50 oil versus $100 oil. Which reminds me of how the Fourth Republic was condemned for what it did when oil was selling at $11/BBL.

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