Rafael Lacava, governor of Carabobo State and a member of Venezuela’s United Socialist Party, has shared a 3-D animated video that has caused a stir on social media and sparked controversy among party ranks. The images pay homage to the late revolutionary leader Hugo Chávez as well as deceased Argentinean soccer star Diego Maradona and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, in an imitation of the superhero Avengers series.
The video was created to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the inauguration of the Diego Armando Maradona Recreational Sports Center, in the city of Puerto Cabello on the country’s central coast. Present at the event were the current Minister of Energy and Petroleum, Tareck El Aissami, the Argentine ambassador in Caracas, Oscar Laborde, and the former Argentinean soccer player and coach Luis Alberto Islas. The content, initially praised among the Chavista ranks, was bitterly criticized by María Gabriela Chávez, the former president’s daughter, who considered it disrespectful.
The video shows animated figures of Maduro and Lacava dressed as superheroes, followed by Chávez descending from heaven in military uniform, beret and angel wings, upon which he is greeted reverently by the politicians. Maradona is then seen falling from the sky, also sporting wings and the sky-blue strip of the Argentina soccer team. The four of them kick a ball around, before Chávez and Maradona say farewell, ascending once again to heaven, leaving behind a cloud of smoke in the shape of the flags of Venezuela and Argentina.
After the video was published, María Gabriela Chávez wrote on her Twitter account: “The best way to honor Comandante Chávez is by following his example of life, humility and dedication. Never by making a grotesque video of some silly superheroes. It is disrespectful to my father’s memory. Chávez lives in the soul of his people!”
The gaffe did not end there. After Chávez had publicly voiced her disapproval of the video, she received support from Rafael Ramírez, former head of the state-owned oil and gas company Petróleos de Venezuela and energy czar under Chávez, who today is in exile after being accused of corruption by the Maduro administration. Ramírez shared responsibilities with Chávez’s daughter in the Venezuelan Embassy to the United Nations nine years ago, just after Chávez’s death when Maduro was assuming office.
“You have my full support. In defending the memory and work of Commander Chávez, we have been persecuted and exiled, but he lives on in his example and revolutionary work, always by the side of the people. They cannot turn his image into a grotesque piece of merchandise!” Ramírez said. To which Chavez’s daughter replied: “I do not want or need the support of a criminal like you. Do not cling to my opinion as a daughter for your personal objectives. You, defending the memory of Hugo Chávez? Hahaha, please.”
Lacava, who calls himself Dracula, is a controversial and heterodox politician and a close ally of Maduro. He is famous for his outlandish outbursts and his passion for soccer, an activity that he has not tired of promoting within his governmental programs. One of his sons, Matías Lacava, is a promising member of the youth ranks of the Venezuelan national team. However, Lacava’s discourse is less ideologized and closer to the business community than the vast majority of his party colleagues.
Although he is regularly criticized from within the ranks of revolutionary orthodoxy and despised by some sectors of the opposition, Lacava is a successful public manager with a sizable portfolio of inaugurated works under his governorship, which is unusual within the framework of official public management in Venezuela.
His government pronouncements, projects, manifestos and inaugurations are always presented with the seal of bat, in the style of the Batman comics. In opinion polls he is regarded as one of the most popular ruling party officials. Following María Gabriela Chávez’s rebuke, neither Lacava nor Maduro himself have made any comment on the controversial montage.
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