CARACAS, Venezuela, Thursday September 11, 2014 – Venezuela’s late President Hugo Chavez has almost been elevated to the status of a deity by many of his former followers, so there was nothing unusual about a Chavista congresswoman going to some length to honour her former leader.
But in the best traditions of “it’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it,” it was how she did it that sent shockwaves rippling far beyond her country’s borders.
Last week, at an event in Caracas, Maria Estrella Uribe delivered a novel version of the Lord’s Prayer, adapting the original words to pay homage to Chavez, because they could not “leave without this spiritual commitment,” according to a report in La Patilla.
The “spiritual commitment” translated from Spanish as follows:
“Our Chavez, who art in Heaven, in earth, in the sea and in us the delegates, hallowed be Thy name. Thy legacy come to us to take to the people … gives us today your light to that it guides us all days and lead us not into the temptation of capitalism, deliver us from evil, oligarchy and the crime of smuggling, for centuries of centuries.”
After the customary “Amen,” the congresswoman wrapped up her prayer with a spirited “Viva Chavez!”
The socialist leader died in March 2013 after a long battle with cancer. He was succeeded by former Vice President Nicolas Maduro, whose administration has been beset by shortages of everything from toilet paper to basic food items, as well as high inflation and escalating crime.
The shortage of many staples, aggravated by the economic crisis, led thousands of people in Venezuela’s western states to take to the streets in protest in January, with demonstrations quickly spreading to the rest of the country.
The food shortages continue to be so severe that the government is mandating that people scan their fingerprints at grocery stores in an attempt to prevent people from buying too much of a single item.
President Maduro did not specify when the system would take effect, but other senior officials have said it could be in place by the end of the year.
Critics say the initiative is tantamount to food rationing and constitutes a breach of privacy.
Others simply put the blame for the country’s chronically bare shelves on the failed left-wing policies of the past 15 years, initiated by “Our Chavez who art in Heaven.”