Painting by Hugo Chávez, while he was still a lieutenant-colonel in the Venezuelan army…and in the clinker for conspiring to overthrow a president who frankly had it coming.
This week, on March 26, Venezuela celebrated a most unusual anniversary. That was the day, 19 years ago, that Chavecito was released from Yare Prison. He was pardoned by then president Rafael Caldera, a man whom he would go on to replace just four years later. Meanwhile, the president whom Chavecito and his buddies had hoped to overthrow (and return to their barracks once a new leader was in place) had been removed from office after being indicted for embezzlement of public funds. Carlos Andrés Pérez would eventually leave jail himself, but he wound up in Miami, from whence he never came back alive. Nor did he ever get a chance to retake the presidency he still (deludedly) imagined was waiting for his return. That seat was occupied by this handsome young guy…who, as you can see, was MEGA-popular on his own big comeback from the stripey hole, unlike CAP:
I’m not sure, but that COULD be his eventual successor Nicolás Maduro beside him, in the white shirt. The height and the mustache make me pretty sure it’s him. Maduro visited Chavecito in prison (see his profile here), and became a close revolutionary colleague from that point on.
Here is Chavecito again, speaking in front of the National Patheon, where Simón Bolívar lies:
And here he is, signing the guest book with a very memorable inscription…
…before heading out to be mobbed by loyal supporters, a scene which was to go on repeating itself ad infinitum.
Hasta la victoria eterna, Comandante.