Sans Chavez, inauguration goes on
By The Associated Press
Published: Thursday, January 10, 2013, 7:54 p.m.
Updated: Thursday, January 10, 2013
CARACAS — Nothing shows the extent of Hugo Chavez's grip on power quite as clearly as his absence from his own inauguration on Thursday.
Venezuela gathered foreign allies and tens of thousands of exuberant supporters to celebrate a new term for a leader too ill to return home for a real swearing-in.
In many ways, it looked like the sort of rally the president has staged dozens of times throughout his 14 years in power: The leader's face beamed from shirts, signs and banners. Adoring followers danced and chanted in the streets to music blaring from speakers mounted on trucks. Nearly everyone wore red, the color of his Bolivarian Revolution movement, as the swelling crowd spilled from the main avenue onto side streets.
But this time, there was no Chavez on the balcony of Miraflores Palace.
It was the first time in Venezuela's history that a president has missed his inauguration, said Elias Pino Iturrieta, a prominent historian. As for the symbolic street rally, Pino said, “perhaps it's the first chapter of what they call Chavismo without Chavez.”
Yet in the crowd outside the presidential palace, many insisted that Chavez was still present in their hearts, testifying to his success in forging a tight bond of identity with millions of poor Venezuelans.
The crowd chanted: “We are all Chavez!” Some wore paper cutouts of the yellow, blue and red presidential sash to show they were symbolically swearing in themselves in, in Chavez's place.
Those in the crowd raised their hands and repeated an oath after Vice President Nicolas Maduro, Chavez's designated successor: “I swear by the Bolivarian Constitution that I will defend the presidency of commander Chavez in the street, with reason, with the truth!”
- Man who allegedly hacked soldier to death in London identified as Muslim convert
- Syria’s civil war combat spilling into Lebanon
- Red tape hampers research on virus
- Pakistan arrested American who was killed by drone
- UK official: Soldier slaying suspects part of previous probes
- 6 Americans die in suicide blast in Afghanistan
- Hezbollah guerrillas step up for Syria’s Assad, lose 30 in fighting
- Japanese mayor notes insensitivity of telling U.S. troops to visit his nation’s adult establishments
- Pair joins hunger strike at Gitmo
- More violence hits Iraq
- Venezuela opposition: Cuba calls the shots
You must be signed in to add comments
To comment, click the Sign in or sign up at the very top of this page.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.