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Hugo Chavez legacy grows as Venezuelan presidential election draws closer

April 1, 2013

Former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is still singing the National Anthem for crowds around the country, even though he died March 5, 2013.

A recording of Chavez singing the anthem has become an ubiquitous feature of rallies for acting President Nicolas Maduro, who is running to succeed Chavez as president in the nation's April 14 election. Singing at campaign rallies are not the limit of Chavez's post-mortem appearances. State television has been regularly broadcasting a cartoon image of Chavez arriving in a green field, representing the after-life, mingling with the likes of Che Guevera and Salvador Allende.

A nearly religious following
"All of the prophecies of Hugo Chavez, the prophet of Christ on this earth, have come true," Maduro has said at rallies to support his run for the presidency. "In eternity, or wherever you are, you must be proud because you left our people the greatest inheritance of all: a free and independent nation on the path toward socialism."

Apart from lionizing the late leader in words, Maduro has also placed Chavez's image on everything short of the ballot, notes Reuters. He has also reportedly claimed that Chavez had advised God Himself on the anointing of South American Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as pope.

While Munro's public statements may seem hyperbolic, he is not alone in his adulation of the man that supporters called a liberator, and opponents accused of being a dictator.

Maria Munoz, a 64-year-old seamstress, has already converted her one-bedroom house into a shrine devoted to the late president, according to Fox News. She said that she and her brother-in-law are looking for a larger home to better display the half dozen boxes of Chavez memorabilia they have collected over the years. 

"He saved us from so many politicians who came before him," Munoz  told Fox News. "He saved us from everything."

Political impact 
Maduro will begin his formal campaign for the presidency on April 2, with a caravan from Chavez's home town in the central plains to the presidential palace.  A former driver himself, Maduro will pilot the bus for the opening leg of the campaign tour.

Though widely regarded as the former leader's handpicked successor, Maduro has some trouble engaging with audiences on the same level as his showman predecessor.  His own conversations with ordinary citizens have seemed stilted in comparison to his former boss's spontaneous interactions with supporters, reports Reuters. Lacking Chavez natural charm, Maduro has instead positioned himself as the person best suited to carry on the socialist policies that Chavez began.


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