Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

TALKING EUROPE

EU ombudsman: 'Just raising an issue can be sufficient to change things'

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Trouble in the eurozone: New Italian government puts pressure on establishment

Read more

IN THE PRESS

Celebrations after Mexico's win against Germany prompts 'fan-made' earthquake

Read more

YOU ARE HERE

France's Basque country, where singing is sacred

Read more

PERSPECTIVE

Charitable donations: 'By 2024, we believe giving will be the norm'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Ex-Carrefour boss urged to give up €13 million retirement package

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Egypt, Morocco lose first World Cup matches after conceding last-minute goals

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Macron likes his china fancy

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

World Cup kicks off; Trump hits back at critics; Migrant crisis divides EU

Read more

FOCUS

Our Focus programme brings you exclusive reports from around the world. From Monday to Friday at 7.45 am Paris time.

Latest update : 2014-03-05

Maduro and Venezuela wrestle with Chavez legacy

© FRANCE 24

It's a year to the day since Venezuela lost its iconic and divisive leader Hugo Chavez. In those 12 months, the country has seen food shortages and violent demonstrations against the man Chavez chose as his successor, President Nicolas Maduro.

Maduro will oversee 10 days of commemorative activities and a military parade in Caracas on Wednesday, followed by a ceremony at a marble sarcophagus housing Chavez’s remains.

On the eve of the celebrations, FRANCE 24 visited the capital Caracas to speak to Venezuelans about life after Chavez.

On our arrival, it is clear that the legend of the man known as “El Commandante” lives on. Images of the “Eternal Commander” are plastered on billboards and walls throughout the bustling capital.

There are even shops dedicated to the cult of Chavez that resemble museums.

Cult of Chavez

“In killing Che Guevara, the Americans thought they had killed the revolution,” José Riviera, who runs one such shop, told FRANCE 24. “It was an error. ‘El Che’ is still selling very well and so is Chavez. The Americans have poison so I'm sure they killed Chavez – still I've never sold as many Chavez products as I sell today”, he said.

But, he added, “I have very little Maduro product.”

It appears that Maduro does not stir the same passion.

Despite this, Chavistas largely remain loyal to their hero's dying wish that they support Maduro. Many of them regularly gather on the capital’s Bolivar Square to show their support for their idol's protégé.

“Maduro is the ideal president,” one of the Chavistas, Ismael Carbona, told FRANCE 24. “He's the only one who can continue Chavez's work and remain faithful to our socialist principles. Of course he could never live up to Chavez but he has the same vision as him, the same ideas... this is why the people love him.”

Economically at least Maduro is treading the same path. He continues his predecessor’s “war” against capitalism and imports of basic products, like milk and flour. Venezuelans are used to these policies, as they have been living with them for over a decade, but this year the shortages have been particularly telling.

“There is nothing here, and what there is, is overpriced. I have a lot on my shopping list, but I could only buy what I found,” one shopper in a bare supermarket told FRANCE 24.

The country is facing runaway inflation, which hit a record 56 percent in 2013.

One Caracas shopper told FRANCE 24 that prices for basic products can skyrocket overnight.

Maduro ‘a caricature’ of Chavez

The economic crisis has seen Maduro's popularity nosedive to below 50 per cent, a number that threatens his legitimacy as president.

“Maduro's not been able to create his own political identity,” Luis Vicente Leon, a political scientist told FRANCE 24. “He's only imitated Chavez but without his charisma, without his intelligence, without his natural authority, without his popularity and without even his sense of humour. He remains a caricature of Hugo Chavez.”

Protests have engulfed the country since February 12, with protestors carrying placards that mock the president, his policies, and even his moustache.

Students appear to be leading the charge against Maduro and are demanding he step down.

“The country was better under Chavez,” said Freddy Figueroa, student leader. “At least under Chavez, he had a firm grip on power. There was real stability, even if things weren't perfect, it still felt like someone was in charge of the county. At the moment it seems like the government doesn't really control anything.” 

By Pierre-Philippe BERSON

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2018-06-15 Middle East

Residents of southern Lebanon live in fear of another war

Last month, the leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah group announced that a new chapter in Syria's civil war had begun. This came after missiles were fired from Syrian soil into the...

Read more

2018-06-14 Asia-pacific

Video: Men forced into marriage in northern India

Forced marriages are on the rise in India. In most cases, it's women who are kidnapped and forced into marrying a man they do not know. But in the northern state of Bihar, one of...

Read more

2018-06-13 Europe

Russia gets set to host World Cup as costs soar

All eyes will be on Russia as the World Cup kicks off on Thursday. The country has spent almost €9 billion on the event. Of the 12 stadiums, nine have been built from scratch. In...

Read more

2018-06-12 Europe

The Italians speaking out against the mafia in Sicily

Racketeering, extortion, so-called protection money: Italy's economy, and its southern regions in particular, are hit hard by organised crime. On the island of Sicily, the local...

Read more

2018-06-11 Asia-pacific

Politics in Malaysia: A new era?

Malaysia is still reeling from the historic election defeat of the UNMO party, which had ruled the country for the past six decades. The vote followed a corruption scandal in...

Read more