Nicolas Maduro’s Speech at the Funeral of President Hugo Chavez

Translated here is the moving speech Nicolas Maduro gave at Chavez's funeral. He discussed the importance of Chavez in history, and the legacy of tasks he leaves behind for his country.


Dear Mrs. Elena [Frias de Chavez]; dear daughters and sons, grandchildren, teacher Hugo de los Reyes, relatives of our Commander President, father and guide, Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias. Dear and respectedpresidents, prime ministers and princes. From all four corners of our planet you have come to express your support and solidarity with your love and presence to our glorious people of Venezuela, to our Commander Hugo Chavez. We thank you from our heart, for having come from your lands to bring this great tribute, to bring us with your embrace and your words the encouragement that we need at this hard and tragic hour in the history of the 21st century.

Dear leaders who have come here, leaders of social and political movements from all across the world, who walk in the streets with the people…

Dear Gustavo Dudamel, maestroAbreu, who has brought our youth’s music to fill with a fresh breath the soul of this pure man whom we have here.

Comrades, both men and women, of President Hugo Chavez’s Bolivarian government. Governors: we are here before him, in a way we would have never wished to be, with the greatest pain of which our humanity is capable—here we are, Commander.

Yesterday a woman gave us some words of encouragement. While she was speaking to us we felt the real magnitude of what has taken place.  She said, “Be strong because his soul and his spirit were so strong that his body could not endure it anymore, and he freed himself, and his soul and his spirit are going across this universe, expanding, filling us with blessings, with love, gathering all the blessings of all the nations, of all the love that can be found in this universe to bring it to us, and we know it is this way, Commander, and that is how we feel”.

Our prayers say that it is time for forgiveness, and you taught us the most infinite love that went all the way to forgiveness, in the most difficult of circumstances. There has been no leader in the history of our homeland, more reviled, more slandered, and more despicably attacked than our Commander President. Never in 200 years were there so many lies about one man, neither here nor in the world. Although, certainly, our Bolivar was betrayed, they did not dare slander him, neither in his own days, nor after his days. But neither lies, nor hatred were able to defeat our Commander, because our Commander is here.

And why weren’t they able to defeat him? Do you know why they weren’t able to defeat him, dear heads of state who have brought your most pure love for this man, beyond ideologies and political frontiers? Because within him our Commander had the strongest shield that a human being can have, which is his purity, the love of Christ. The love of a true son of Christ saved him from slanderous allegations, infamy, and here he is undefeated, pure, transparent, unique, truthful, and alive forever, for all times, for this one and all future times—Commander, they were not able to defeat you, they won’t ever be able to defeat us, they never will—Attendees: Long live Chavez! The struggle goes on, long live Chavez! The struggle goes on, long live Chavez! The struggle goes on, long live Chavez!

In life we were loyal to him, all of us, all of us, all the great men of this Venezuelan land, and we learned [loyalty] because he taught it to us, we didn’t know it. Many of us, almost from childhood, joined the revolutionary ranks, and we were traveling different paths, some military paths, such as the generation of sons—I ask you to stand up, all of you of the generation of military sons—here are your sons Commander, here are your National Bolivarian Armed Forces, made a people, made spirit, made flesh, with their firearms, with their sword…An army of peace, that is what  our Armed Forces are, an army of men and women [who are] liberators.

We were traveling along our paths since we were very young, 11, 12 years old, some starting at our homes, the homes of our fathers, of our mothers. But while traveling on the path [that leads to] the redemption of our homeland, we had never known our own history. If one wants to correctly put together the legacy Hugo Chavez leaves behind, the first thing that must be done is to recognize that he led us to rediscover the history of our homeland; he raised the flags of the liberator Simon Bolivar. He embodied them, he embodied them.  And he taught us love and forgiveness. He also taught us to love our history. That is why we say from our heart today—I ask permission from his daughters, his mother—Commander, here you are undefeated. In your name and with the love of Christ, we forgive those who slandered you; you [Commander] are free from all the faults they tried to impute to you. 

And in that history, all of our leaders, beginning with the greatest of all, Simón Bolívar, were not allowed to enter the united provinces of Venezuela. The Grand Marshall of Ayacucho was threatened with execution were he to step on the land of the already separated  provinces of Gran Colombia, the first Colombia, our Colombia, which is beating with desires to be born, of being once again re-founded.

All died, expelled from our land by those who ruled and betrayed us. Some betrayed  Bolivar and he died there in the Gran Colombia, in Santa Marta—the same place  where on a certain occasion our Commander went to sit down with president Juan Manuel Santos,  to shake his hand and  say, “Let us work together.” And so it happened, President Santos, we thank you.

The cadaver of the Grand Marshall of Ayacucho was left lying on the ground and the wretched of the earth picked up his body and they looked after it until they were able to take it to Quito. It spent 70 years hidden, lost. It wasn’t until that great Bolivarian  general Eloy Alfaro came [onto the scene] in 1900  to vindicate him,  bringing him out of his ostracized status and taking him where he was supposed to be, in the cathedral of Quito, there with our brothers, with president Rafael Correa, with the Bolivarian people of Ecuador.

Why did the final hour of our great founders have to be this way?  Why did the final hour of those who walked barefooted from here, from the Caribbean to Potosí, to procure our freedom have to be this way? How do we explain so many betrayals, some much envy, so much selfishness? How do we explain so much evil? The reason is the vested interests that ultimately prevailed, those interests that were not the supreme interests of the newborn homeland; interests that were not the supreme interests of the peoples. Those were times of confusion, and the great Bolivar and the great Sucre did not have enough strength to bring together the land and the people that they had liberated.

Ezequiel Zamora was another great person we had here, general of the sovereign nation, a redeemer who took upon himself the task of raising Bolivar’s betrayed flags,  and also died of one bullet wound January 10th of 1860, as he was coming to Caracas with his victorious troops of toothless paupers. Our master and teacher taught us this.

And [we also had] Cipriano Castro 100 years ago.  Petroleum had already been discovered in our Venezuela. Cipriano Castro was a nationalist. He fell sick and departed [from Venezuela] in 1908. His ship had barely set sail when the betrayal of the acting vice president prevailed. Venezuela went through 20 years of the worst dictatorship we have ever known in the 20th century, and they came for our petroleum and they plundered it. Venezuela was the first producer of petroleum in the world in the decade of the 20s, in the 20th century. They plundered our country.

And so, Commander, once you related that to us, speaking in the presidential airplane, you were reading this story to Commander Fidel Castro, Commander in Chief of the liberating nations of our Latin America and the Caribbean. He told us that after listening attentively and in silence, Commander Fidel Castro answered, “Hugo, that’s a very sad story. I didn’t know it, but be certain that neither you nor I will die that way: when we have to go, we’ll leave with our victorious nations standing up, with the blessing and love of the women and men who are just”.

Fidel’s prediction was fulfilled, here you are Commander: with your men standing up, all your men and women, loyal as we sworn before you, loyal even beyond death, and you, President-Elect of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Commander in Chief of our Armed Forces, here in your homeland, under your command, under your unique command.

We have broken the curse of treason against the homeland and we will break the curse of defeat and regression. We have broken that curse. Here is the unsheathed sword and your eyes looking towards Christ.

In previous days, hours before the announcements of December 8th, a group of comrades visited him in Havana: Diosdado, comrade and brother in these battles, but above all of the battles to come—Diosdado Cabello Rondón, a revolutionary, also a man with a pure soul, son of our Commander Hugo Chavez—comrades Rafael, Elias, Cilia, were accompanying him. As always Rosa, María, Rosinés, Hugo, Adán, all of his siblings, comrade Jorge Arreaza, life-partner of our beloved Rosa Virgina, whom our commander adopted as his own son.

And one difficult day, in the early hours of the morning I had to go there, to his bedroom. We were there together Jorge and I. Jorge always writing everything in his notebook. And there the Commander asked us to help him with a task, he said to us: “I believe I have to write some final words as a testament” and as always he gave us an order, Hugo Chavez’s testament. “Help me with an outline, some ideas, so that I can sit down to write them down during these hours.” 

We did not fulfill that order, we weren’t able to, it was impossible. He had already fulfilled that order because our Commander’s entire life has been a testament: his word, his passion, his action, his work! His people, the people of Venezuela are his testament, the humble of the world, the poor, the hopeless, the oppressed of all times and all hours, we the grandchildren of the slaves! We are his living testament! He left his testament signed and sealed by the people. The first one of them is here.

If anyone wants to know who Hugo Chavez truly was, and wants to tear down the veil of lies, the mean lies of the media, [and] the worldwide psychological warfare against this man, get to know this letter written by him…his constitution approved by the people, discussed by the people. And get to know his word and his action. Everything we are today is here. Here is our guide. If anyone has any doubt, about anything, any time, here is the supreme word of the homeland, the letter of peace, everyone’s letter.

When this constitution was discussed, we came out into the streets to debate it and a referendum was called for. Some Venezuelans came out to vote in favor of the “No”, so as not to approve it. Life has its ways, for Chavez said to us that year in 1999—we were constituents—he said: “Patience: what is just is just and this letter will come to be recognized by all sooner rather than later.”—Today, we can say Commander, this is the letter of all, women and men, even those who opposed it today have made it their own. All are welcomed, Venezuela is for all us and belongs to all us, and this letter is our guide for unity, for peace, for coexistence. It is a letter for making revolution, democratic revolution.

And if one wants to take a closer look: what was the dream of our undefeated Commander?—as  the general of armies, Raul Castro said yesterday in his words from Santiago, Cuba: “Undefeated”—if one desires to know,  what did he think that 21st century Venezuela would be?—Jorge, comrade, he himself wrote his testament June of the year 2012, with his own hand and fist. Elias Jaua who was executive vice president knows this, he was directly involved in the testament.

Here Commander Chavez left us five historic tasks. They are five historic tasks of a thought which is part of a system of values, of principles, inspired in Bolivar our founding father; inspired in the liberators; inspired in the wisdom of our indigenous peoples, of our great Guaicaipuro; inspired in Christ.

If someone were to ask, what does a man or woman look like, what is a human being like when one undertakes becoming a true child of Christ our redeemer, and one devotes oneself, giving away one’s entire life, body and spirit for a people, for the oppressed, for the poor? [If someone were to ask this] one would have to recognize that Hugo Chavez was an authentic Christian of the streets. A Christian, a redeemer in Christ! A protector in Christ, of the poor of this earth and of the lands of the world!

And so he left us five historic tasks. They are absolutely unified. They are democratic tasks, because after a democratic debate in this Homeland of men and women who are conscious and free, our people approved our Commander’s testament. He never lied in politics, or in anything. When he discovered in his own path that under capitalism, not to mention neoliberal capitalism, it was impossible to stabilize society, to give equality and happiness to the nations, and that it was impossible stably to sustain true democracies, he said one day in December of 2004, he said to us:

 I will raise the flags of our American, Indigenous, Bolivarian and Christian socialism. We will dare build humanity’s dream with audacity, and will do this in democracy and in socialism…. And here he leaves a system of principles, values. They are five.

The first one of them:

To maintain and consolidate the independence we have already conquered during these 14 years of democratic, popular, and Bolivarian revolution.

The second:

To build our own socialism: diverse, democratic, ours, American.

The third one of them:

To build Venezuela as a powerful nation in the context of the great powerful Latin America

which will be built in these years to come, and which we have seen here standing up, represented by the diversity of presidents, men and women that have come. We have to be a great power.

It was right here—dear presidents, men and women—right here in this patio where Chavez the cadet received his formation. Who would have known that 30, 40 years later that cadet would be presiding here the foundation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States? [A community] which the president of Chile Sebastian Piñera has presided with dignity, to whom we extend our thanks for all of his generosity and all of his respectful and affectionate gestures towards president Hugo Chavez! And [a community] which today is presided by the General of Armies Raúl Castro Ruz and the Cuba of dignity, heading this organization.

And the fourth objective:

To build a balanced world—Bolivar: the balance of the universe—[to build a world] without empires.

There are some representatives here that we want greet and show appreciation for. We have Jesse Jackson, but also former Congressman William Delahunt and Congressman Gregory Meeks whom we greet. They have been sent by president Obama, we welcome you.  We care for all and love all of the nations of our America, but we want relations marked by respect, cooperation, and true peace. We want, just as Commander Chavez wrote, “a world without empires”, without hegemonic nations, a world of peace, a world in which international law is respected, a world of nations capable of coming together to cooperate, to live, to be just, in terms of equality. And why can’t this be possible when all the will of one world is here, all of the strength of one world? And Latin America has the historic task of creating that new world, of unifying ourselves in our diversity and saying to the world: here is the Latin America of liberators; here we are standing up, together, [saying]: this world has to change. 

And a fifth objective which I will read, because without this the very existence of the human species will be impossible. At the end of the day this fifth objective is the one that brings together each of the points in this testament which Commander Hugo Chavez left us. The fifth objective is very simple, and we say it with great humility, but with the greatest anguish for humanity. Commander Hugo Chavez says in his fifth historic objective:

To contribute to the preservation of life in the planet and to the salvation of the human species.

Neither capitalism nor socialism nor any of our religions will exist if we are unable, from where we are, each of us with our own political and religious ideologies, to save this planet, putting an end to nuclear bombs, eliminating all those powers of destruction, of contamination of rivers, of seas, of global warming. Here it is, Commander, your testament. 

A number of years ago, some times during pressing moments, sometimes when we made mistakes, the Commander President would always say to us,             “Nicolás, Elías, Rafael, Yadira, Jorge, what will you all do when I die?”

We always said to him, “Please, Commander, don’t say that.”   “What will you all do when I die? How will you all manage?”

He left everything arranged; now it is up to us whether we do it or not. We call our nation to do it. 

What will we do when you die Commander? You can go in peace, our prayers and our love in Christ, and from our heart we wish you the greatest peace possible in that new realm of life. What will we do? We will continue, we’ll go on together, the people, the Armed Forces, your constitution, with your political testament, with your example and with our love.  We’ll continue protecting the poor, we’ll continue giving food to those who need it, we’ll continue building the education of our children, we’ll continue building the Grand Homeland, we’ll continue building peace, peace, peace for our continent, the peace of our people—So Commander, mission accomplished, Commander President! The battle goes on. Chavez lives!—Attendees: the battle goes on!—Long live Hugo Chavez!—Attendees: Que viva!—Long live our people!—Attendees: Que viva!—Long live love and unity!—Attendees: Que viva!—Onward to victory Commander!—Attendees: Chávez lives, the battle goes on! Chávez lives, the battle goes on! Chávez lives, the battle goes on!

8 March 2013, Caracas

Translation by Sergio Gomez Diaz Ureña for Venezuelanalysis.com