Venezuela Will Celebrate "Day of Love and Loyalty to Hugo Chavez"


The lionization of Hugo Chavez continued this week in Venezuela, as President Nicolas Maduro announced that from now on, the country will celebrate an annual “day of love and loyalty to Hugo Chavez.”

Maduro, who last week assured TV viewers that Chavez’s face appeared miraculously in a subway tunnel, signed an official decree on Tuesday that designates the 8th of December as the day of love and loyalty to Venezuela’s former president.

According to the new law, every 8th of December, the Venezuelan government will organize events that celebrate Chavez’s “bolivarian thinking, his infinite love for the people, and his permanent legacy.”

The 8th of December of 2012, was the last time Chavez ever made a public apperance. On that day, he appeared on national TV to tell the Venezuelan people that he had to return to Cuba for cancer surgery, and asked his followers to vote for Maduro, if he could not stay in power.

Maduro became Venezuela’s acting president after Chavez’s death in March. Campaigning as Chavez’s successor, he won the presidential elections in April by a narrow margin of just 300,000 votes. Maduro was accused of committing election fraud by Venezuela’s opposition, and after he initially agreed to requests for a thorough vote recount, his government refused to honor such petitions.

In the past few months, Maduro’s government has struggled to contain the country’s high inflation and crime rates, with some polls suggesting that he is losing ground among the poor, Chavez’s main constituency., Other polls suggest that the country is split -politically- in two roughly equal halves.

The first ever day of “love and loyalty” for Chavez will coincide with municipal elections that are slated for the 8th of December and are seen as a major test for the Maduro administration.

In Venezuela, campaigning must stop a few days before elections are held. Opposition leaders in Venezuela are concerned that the government will use day of Chavez celebrations to campaign for government-backed municipal candidates.

Manuel Rueda is a correspondent for Fusion, covering Mexico and South America. He travels from donkey festivals, to salsa clubs to steamy places with cartel activity.

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