With a campaign in national candy colours to carry on ‘Chavismo’ in the name of the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, who named Nicolás Maduro, aged 50, to succeed him, Maduro has been riding the emotion still high after his mentor’s death. He came to politics after driving buses for a living, and as an unofficial trade-unionist representing the workers of the Caracas subway system in the 1980s.
He promises: “I am going to accomplish his orders (referring to Chavez) with the love that he sowed in our hearts. I am not Chavez, but I am his son. We, the people, are Chavez.”
Maduro was Chavez’s friend, at his side for 20 years, also through hard times, including his final illness. Maduro was entrusted with keeping the people informed – to some extent – about the president’s health.
Chavez rewarded his loyalty late last year, just after his re-election, giving Maduro a key post.
“Please put your hands together for the new vice president: Nicolás Maduro.”
Chavez went one better. Before leaving for cancer treatment in Cuba, in December he anointed Maduro to carry the ‘Chavist’ flame.
“My firm, full, irreversible, absolute opinion is that you should vote for Nicolás Maduro as president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. I ask you to do that – deep from my heart.”
Maduro has emulated the Chavez style throughout his campaign for his reconfirmation by the people. His rival for the post called him a poor copy of Chavez. Maduro invoked mysticism.
“A little bird looked at me and sang. I answered his song. Then he flew around me, then flew away. I felt the spirit and blessing of Commander Hugo Chavez.”
A campaign song ends with the recorded Chavez appeal to elect Maduro.