March 16, 2013

Initial State plan was to have his body stay in perpetuity. Current regime in Venezuela wanted the body of Hugo Chavez preserved forever, as a symbol of the anti-imperialist movement he stood for until his death early in March. The idea was to copy Russian preservation of Vladimir Lenin, known worldwide as the Father of communist Soviet Union and the future Socialist world. The plan suffered a setback when the Russian Panel set up to check Venezuela’s request, indicated that to embalm Chavez, his body would be flown to Russia and stay there for seven to eight months.

Information Minister Ernesto Villegas, dropped the news via a twitter post where he expressed the government’s decision though, scientists in a preliminary assessment, have concluded the procedure might be quite difficult. Decision to halt embalming process did not come as a surprise to Venezuelans and followers of the Socialist movement who believe the death of Chavez and his medical records are state secrets, the Socialist government must keep from the outside world, especially the United State.

Other revolutionary leaders like China’s Mao Zedong and Lenin of former Soviet Union, had their bodies embalmed and on display to signify continuation of the Communist ideology and opposition to Western domination of the Socialist states. The Mausoleum Lenin in Red Square Moscow, opened in 1930 and serves as the resting place for the Communist leader, whose body is on display since his death in 1924. One problem embalmers met, was dark spots on Lenin’s skin, especially on the face and hands though, Russian scientists were able to treat his skin discoloration with Hydrogen Peroxide over the years, trying to restore body tissues to original coloring.

Critics have said Chavez’s body could not be a repeat of Lenin and Zedong’s legacy. To some the embalmment is unnecessary, it is a waste of State resources that would serve no purpose other than to open old wounds and spread hatred for the current regime in place, before elections scheduled for April 14. Moreover, preserving Chavez’s remains may not serve the purpose intended. Over the years, the Mausoleum Lenin has seen less crowd visiting to see the Communist leader, unlike when the place was first opened and decades after. On a personal visit to the Mausoleum in 1995, I saw fewer tourists and some were unhappy they couldn’t take photos inside the tomb they spent money to visit.

The Venezuelan government may have chosen to withdraw the plan, as a precautionary measure to prevent the Russians from acquiring information on Chavez’s medical records. While Russia remains a strong ally of Venezuela, divulging State’s secret on Chavez’s death is unlikely to sit well with his family and loyalists who believe Moscow could use information on Chavez as leverage for future dealings with Venezuela. If Vice President Nicolas Maduro becomes President, Moscow will benefit by continuing close relations with the nation. Failure to choose Maduro will put the opposition in power and spell disaster for Russian contracts in Venezuela.

The goal is to make relations with Moscow strictly business while at the same time protecting the privacy of Venezuela that Chavez’s remains represents. While alive, Chavez openly challenged his main trade partner, the U.S., by nationalizing oil assets owned by Exxon Mobile, Conoco Phillips and Chevron. Banks, gold mines and power plants got taken over by the regime to confirm Chavez’s anti-capitalist rhetoric and aim to decrease foreign hold on Venezuela’s resources. Vice President Maduro is known to have more anti-American stance than Chavez and his plan if elected President, would be to keep up the policies of Chavez and trade relations with Russia, that would not make Venezuela vulnerable to unfair dealings.

Any move to send Chavez’s body to Russia, will do more harm than good. It would expose his remains to invasive medical procedures, show his medical records to Russia and make Venezuela weak as a business partner. Venezuela opened Latin America to Russia, by purchasing caches of Russian arms and engaging Russian companies in gas and oil projects in Venezuela. In 2005-2007, Caracas bought 24 SU-30 MK2 fighters, more than 50 MI-17V, MI-35M and MI-26T helicopters, 12 Tor-M1 surface-to-air missile systems and 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles, based on report by Russia Beyond The Headlines. To play safe, Venezuela would rather be a trade partner or else, become a Russian puppet and a weak dealer.

Dr. Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E. JD] is the author of ‘Wills Law and Contests,’ ‘Constitutional Law-First Amendment’ and ‘SAVING LOVE’ available at Follow on Twitter @san0670.

Categories: Foreign Affairs

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