Soon after Hugo Chavez went to prison in February 1992 for his failed military uprising, it was carnival time in Venezuela and hundreds of largely young boys dressed up in military fatigues with a red beret as Chavitos (little Chavez) or Chavecitos (the latter usually refers to a balancing Chavez doll), an army of Chavez look-alikes. In one commando operation Chavez had inserted himself in the Venezuelan popular imagination.
He mentions this in one of his prison letters: “Those were the days of being born. Those were the days… that children were dressed up. I remember very clearly we were at the San Carlos barracks; it was the carnival and there we could watch television and there was a journalist speaking with a child. It is not easy speaking to children, but they were on the streets and the child with his mother, the child dressed as Chavecito or Chavito. Then the journalist arrives and comes up to the child, you know how the journalists are like, and then tells him:
Twenty years later, the Chavitos are effectively in power, not the carnival children, but a new generation of young leaders standing in for their leader absent from Venezuela. And they have a project: creating a brotherhood of Chavez. This is not a deduction; it has been publicly announced by Chavez’s principal heir and chosen apostle, Nicolas Maduro, the current Vice-President.
|'I am Chavez'|
If Chavez returns and lives awhile, the project will recede, only to germinate again when he passes away. Perhaps he will have better luck with his succession that either Lenin or Mao; perhaps it was not mere luck or chance that this has happened; perhaps he prepared for it right from the start of his illness; perhaps he will have more time to cement his legacy.