The late Hugo Chavez’ legacy is better eulogized by historians and journalists than by myself; the creation of a coherent narrative for a man who spearheaded one of the great social democratic projects in history, while simultaneously instituting problematic civil rights policies, is far too ambitious for my pedestrian socialist observations.
What I do feel comfortable talking about, however, is the “Otro Beta” (roughly “a new thing”) campaign of last year, which promoted the then 58-year-old Chavez as a young “tough guy” from the barrio. The campaign intended to court the working class youth vote by using the language and experiences of the barrio to talk up Chavez. This produced some particularly strange political art depicting the president popping a wheelie on a motorcycle, rapping in hip-hop fashions, and slam-dunking a basketball.
To me it seems no more absurd or desperate than Bill Clinton playing the sax on The Arsenio Hall Show—but then again, Bill Clinton actually did play saxophone on The Arsenio Hall Show. Maybe George W. Bush “working his ranch” is a more comparable fabricated political identity?