When Sitcoms Are Sabotage, Emperor Chávez Has No Clothes

Maduro, king of Venezuela by the grace of Chávez, faces the regime’s structural problems. (NicolásMaduro)

EspañolAn impeccably prepared scenario took place in 2012. With the flag behind and to his right and a bust of Simón Bolívar that seemed to stare at him from his left, Hugo Chavez “delegated” the leadership of the 21st-century-socialist revolution to Nicolás Maduro, in the event of his death.

It was a momentous event in the history of both Chavismo and Venezuela — although the regime’s sympathizers often confuse them as the same thing. The nationwide televised transmission bestowed dominance to the most doctrinaire Chavistas (Maduro’s) over allies in the military (led by Diosdado Cabello). Thus, Maduro became the chosen successor of Venezuela’s godlike character who turned out to be Chávez.

Chávez knew that his “legacy” was threatened by internal tension. He sought to bring about unity for Chavismo, and through that portrayal is his speech he appointed Maduro as the presidential candidate in his absence.

Now Maduro, king of Venezuela by the grace of Chávez, not only faces a series of structural problems inherent in the implementation of such an authoritarian regime, but his own incompetence.

Reality has shown the consequences of the Chávez legacy in Venezuela. Ever more jingoistic phrases and videos about the socialist miracle cannot hide Venezuela’s situation anymore. The ruling coalition now relies more than ever on the traditional strategy of denouncing conspiracies, assassinations, and sabotage by enemies of the revolution.

They have stooped, let us remember, to the point of banning films and video games. Occasionally, their intimidation materializes in the closing or infiltration of media outlets. The latest target of Chavista paranoia: a US television series.

Let us recall that a few years ago, Parks and Recreation, in its “Sister City” episode, focused on a cultural exchange between its Pawnee, Indiana, setting and a city in Venezuela governed by Chávez supporters — both fictional locations. The Chavista response on the internet was immediate and continued on for many days. Of course, such blasphemy compelled criticism as imperialism and an obvious conspiracy.

Today, the TNT network’s Legends is in the crosshairs. It features Sean Bean as the protagonist, remembered as Boromir in The Lord of the Rings and Ned Stark in the Game of Thrones series.

For 19 seconds, during an interrogation scene, Bean’s character tries to extract information from a terrorist on the sale of a biological weapon. He answers with President Maduro’s name and an immediate reference to the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).

Sean Bean (center) stars in the new series, Legends, that has drawn the ire of Chavistas as an purported conspiracy. (@MrVincredible)

Apparently, the plan for the biological weapons — to control civilian protesters — constitutes sufficient grounds to demonstrate a conspiracy, in which the United States will not stop until it ends Chávez’s legacy.

For Chavismo, there is nothing holier than the legacy of the late president. This is something that goes beyond an epic story, it brings meaning and legitimatizes Chávez’s efforts to consolidate and expand the hegemonic power that he demonstrated until his last days.

The leaders of the ruling party are judged by their loyalty or betrayal towards Chávez’s precepts. In this way, they have been effective as militant Bolivarian socialists, and more efficient than the Democratic Action loyalists under Rómulo Betancourt.

Those who pay attention to the unfolding crisis in Venezuela may be forgiven for being surprised. In a display of arrogance, Chavistas have continued to mythologize their deceased leader. They not only admire him, but also pray to him.

During the Third Congress of the PSUV, attendees recited a Chavista version of the Catholic Lord’s Prayer. A mix of political doctrine and Chávez deification, this is a tactic to preserve the image of the former president.

Chávez, like Bolívar, cannot disappear. So long as his caricature continues as pristine in the eyes of so many, the Chavista flags will be legitimate. In Venezuela, they say that one does not play with the dead, so it is strange that this affront does not generate major scandal in a such a Christian nation.

After two centuries of the cult to Bolívar, the new god of the National Pantheon appears to be here to stay. In the future, it will not be strange to see politicos claim to carry the sacred flag of Chávez. Today, we are already witnessing this in some discourses of the ruling and opposition parties. This is the cultural objective of Chavismo, and it seems they are achieving it in a sweep.

Translated by Rebeca Morla.

Subscribe free to our daily newsletter
Sign up here to get the latest news, updates and special reports delivered directly to your inbox.
You can unsubscribe at any time