Today was quite the day. Lots of really interesting things happened.
For one, Maduro made two speeches: one at the parade in Paseo los Proseres, and the other towards the end of the day at the ceremony marking Chavez’s death. During the course of those two speeches, he made a bunch of important remarks. Here are a few of them:
– “In The Empire, they’ve decided to influence the Venezuelan economy. The right is waging an economic war [on us].”
– “If the Organization of American States dares to name a commission [to come to Venezuela], they’ll have to sneak into the country. The Organization of American States cannot enter Venezuela.” He also said that Venezuela would respond with “force and conviction” against any country that attempted to interfere with the situation in Venezuela. This is in direct response to the OAE’s planned meeting this Thursday to discuss the situation in Venezuela.
– On Panama, the country which originally suggested the meeting at the OAE, Maduro said: “In the face of the open conspiracy on behalf of the Panamanian ambassador in Washington at the Organization of American States I have decided to break political and diplomatic relations with the current government of Panama and to freeze all commercial relations. No one will conspire against our country… You vile lackey, President of Panama, you must respect Venezuela and I will not allow your conspiracies”.
The OAE is having a meeting on Thursday to talk about the situation in Venezuela, and there had been rumours of some kind of observer or mediation mission being sent to Venezuela to address some of the human rights issues that have marked the current impasse the country finds itself in. The meeting will most definitely still take place, so it looks like Maduro has gone ahead and pre-empted any conclusion they might arrive at by straight up saying they wouldn’t be welcomed in the country anyway.
The biggest surprise of the day for me was all the talk of Chavez, “the Supreme and Eternal Commander of the Bolivarian Revoluion”. I’d never heard this title before, and today they were throwing it around a whole lot.
There was a speech that the narrator gave at the beginning of the parade where the talk about the “Supreme and Eternal Commander” started, and it just sounded surreal.I’ve found a clip of part of the parade, including some interesting words from the narrator.
And here is what the narrator is saying at the beginning of the clip:
“… Homeland, homeland, beloved homeland! Yours is my sky, yours is my sun. Homeland, homeland! Yours is my life, yours is my soul, yours is my love. It’s the life of that great man which we could divide into various periods. On his birth on July 28 1954 in Sabaneta, until August 8 1971 when he entered military school. Today, we honour you, Supreme and Eternal Commander of the Bolivarian Revolution with your National Bolivarian Armed Forces and your people of Caracas!”
And here is a picture of the new army standard the government is giving out:
Today, Chavez took his seat at the throne of the Venezuelan pantheon. Simon Bolivar is there with him, surely, but after today’s spectacle, he’s been relegated to the second tier. “Our Supreme and Eternal Commander” is a hefty title to bestow upon someone. This kind of rhetoric, I’m afraid, is what leads to problems for countries down the line. By essentially deifying Chavez, the government is creating an entire mythology around a man who, like every single other human being who has ever lived, had flaws. But by crafting his image into that of someone who was so much better than us, the government has pushed Chavez into an “infallibility zone”.
Who amongst us mere mortals can question the wisdom of “our Supreme and Eternal Commander?” And by connection, who can question the wisdom of his sons and daughters, the PSUV?