A broken voice from then-Vice President Nicolás Maduro announced to the world on March 5, 2013 that the current president, Hugo Chávez (Sabaneta 1954-Caracas 2013), had died at 4:25 p.m. that afternoon. With both hands resting on a wooden podium, dressed in a white guayabera, Maduro narrated that he was in a Council of Ministers and then they went to the “Carlos Arvelo” military hospital to receive “the most tragic and harsh news that we can convey to our town”.
On the television screens the figure of Maduro was observed, with the then Foreign Minister Elías Jaua and the Minister of Science Jorge Arreaza to his right. To his left hand was the image of Cilia Flores, wife of Maduro and Minister Ernesto Villegas. In the background were Jorge Rodríguez, Carmen Meléndez and Jacinto Pérez Arcay, among others.
That brief address on radio and television ended with an “honor and glory to Hugo Chávez” that Maduro pronounced raising his clenched fist, a gesture and phrase that the others followed.
Hours before Chávez’s death, Venezuela had announced the expulsion of two US air attachés; the plenary session of the Chinese Communist Party was taking place and the conclave of cardinals meeting in the Vatican had not yet defined who would be the successor of the resigning Pope Benedict XVI.
At the time of his death, Chávez had been two weeks back from Cuba where he was treated for cancer. The President himself spoke for the first time about this disease on June 30, 2011 through a letter that he read in front of the cameras. He recounted in detail in medical terms how suspicions of cancer appeared and his first treatments with the two operations on June 10 and 20 of that year, 2011.
In that public appearance, the discourse was not about infrastructure works, security plans, oil production projections, but about “cytochemical, cytological, microbiological, and pathological anatomy tests that confirmed the existence of an abscessed tumor with the presence of cancer cells.” .
That news removed from the newspapers and television stations the media coverage that was made in those days of the acts of violence that occurred in the Rodeo prison (Miranda) where two pranes (El Yoifre and El Oriente) had kidnapped the prison population of 800 prisoners .
Within hours of that death, the BBC in London published a report entitled Chávez died and the sky turned red, a phrase that he picked up from Iraima Moscoso, a follower of the deceased interviewed in the Plaza Bolívar in Caracas. The world’s newspapers were not indifferent to the death of the Venezuelan president. The disease defeats Chávez, headlined El País (Spain), Cancer kills Hugo Chávez at the age of 58, said O Globo (Brazil) copying The Washington Post and away from that See you forever commander of Gramma, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Cuba .
Venezuelan newspapers opened their headlines with the death of the President. Hugo Chávez 1954-2013 titled El Nacional; Start was without Chávez said El Universal, while Últimas Noticias printed The people cry for Chávez, a headline that he accompanied with one of those photos from the last electoral campaign of the late president where he is seen with his eyes closed and wet from the rain.
During the 21 months that Chávez suffered, it gave him a chance to compete in the 2012 presidential elections, where he won his third term that October 7, against the opponent Henrique Capriles.
the final hours
One day before the death of the then Head of State, the Minister of Communication, Ernesto Villegas, read a statement reporting “a worsening of respiratory function” and “a new and severe infection.”
On Tuesday, March 5, there were two hallucinations by Vice President Maduro, the first being around 2 pm when he reported the expulsion of a United States military attaché, accused of promoting a military uprising. Maduro described that moment as “the most difficult hours of the President’s illness.” The second address occurred around 5 pm with the announcement of his death.
At the sea
On Wednesday, March 6 of that year, 2013, the remains of the deceased president, called by many Commander of the Revolution, were transferred from the “Carlos Arvelo” military hospital, San Juan parish, Caracas, to the Military Academy in Fort Tiuna. That seven-hour, 13-kilometer journey was packed with people who lined up on the four avenues where the funeral procession passed.
Both in San Martín and in the Armed Forces, La Victoria and part of Roosevelt, Chávez’s followers waved flags and took out posters published during the three presidential campaigns. This massive march was led by Maduro together with the attorney general, Cilia Flores, and the president of Bolivia Evo Morales, among others.
After 3 in the afternoon, the procession arrived at the Military Academy, where the 10-day funeral began, which ended on March 15 when Chávez was taken to the La Montaña Barracks in the presence of 55 heads of state and government.
The queues of men, women and young people to see the body of Chávez started around Plaza Las Tres Gracias. Some urban cleaning workers swept those places muttering the patria / patria / patria querida, the chorus of the tanker’s anthem that Chávez sang on the night of December 8, 2013, where he proclaimed his political testament that entrusted his followers to elect Nicolás Maduro president. Moors.
Presidents Daniel Ortega (Nicaragua), Rafael Correa (Ecuador), Mahmud Ahmadinejad (Iran) and Aleksander Lukashenko (Belarus) paraded through the hall of the Military Academy, where they placed the coffin with the remains of Chávez dressed in military uniform and a red beret. ), among others. As well as popular singers, athletes, artists and businessmen who queued separately in the interior spaces of the Academy.
VTV showed from time to time the crowd that ran along Paseo Los Próceres to spend fractions of a second in front of the ballot box. The cameras also panned an Elena de Chávez in a continuous cry for her dead son.
On the second day of the funerals, Friday, March 8, Maduro went to the Federal Legislative Palace where the head of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, swore him in as interim president. In that special session, the new Head of State reported that he was designating the Minister of Science, Jorge Arreaza for the executive vice-presidency of the Republic. Within hours, the CNE announced that the presidential elections would take place on April 14.
On the seventh day of the wake, (Wednesday, March 13), the world heard the news that the Argentine Jorge Mario Bergoglio would be the new pope of the universal Catholic Church, presented to humanity under the name of Francisco.
Already that day the weeping people had planted Commander Chávez forever in the depths of their hearts. It has been ten years of memories and love for whom he returned the sense of Homeland to the entire country.