The body of former President Hugo Chavez was transported to the military barracks Cuartel de la Montana in the Caracas neighborhood of 23 de Enero last Friday in a solemn ceremony that saw thousands of Venezuelans turn out to pay their ﬁnal respects to the fallen leader.
The barracks will be the ﬁnal resting place of the head of state, who redeﬁned politics in Venezuela and Latin America over the past 14 years.
Before the motorcade that transported the casket from the Military Academy to the 23 de Enero, Chavez’s daughter, Maria Gabriel, gave an emotional speech thanking her father for his love and for changing Venezuela irrevocably.
“Thank you for so much fatherly love, for you constant example, for your smile, for your cries, for your songs, for your dances. Thank you for so much happiness, for your absolute and eternal commitment. But above all, thank you for giving us back our homeland”, the 33 year-old said.
Present for the event was Bolivian President, Evo Morales, as well as the ex-senator from Colombia, Piedad Cordoba, both close friends of the former President.
“After the Liberator of the great homeland, Simon Bolivar, is Hugo Chavez, the redeemer of the world’s poor… This will never be forgotten”, Maduro declared.
The Military High Command as well as Chavez’s brother Adan, also paid homage to the larger-than-life political ﬁgure whose career has written a new chapter in the history of his country.
“We will not fail you, Hugo Rafael Chavez. We will not fail the Venezuelan people… This country is absolutely sure that you will continue to lead the Bolivarian Revolution from a different plane. We will not fail you. We will build Bolivarian Socialism and we will arrive at the point of no return. Nobody will stop it”, Adan Chavez, also Governor of Barinas state, said.
THE ROOTS OF REVOLUTION
The Cuartel de la Montana barracks was chosen to house the former lieutenant colonel given the role that the outpost played in the insurrection led by Chavez on February 4, 1992, when a cadre of military personnel attempted to bring down the corrupt government of Carlos Andres Perez.
While the rebellion was unsuccessful, Chavez’s attempt to put an end to the repression and economic austerity of the Perez government converted the young soldier into a folk hero in Venezuela and catapulted the Barinas native to his ﬁrst presidential victory in 1998.
It was from that point that the charismatic leader would go on to turn the desperation and hardship of the 1980s and 1990s into the seeds of hope for a more prosperous Venezuela.
On Friday, Communication Minister Ernesto Villegas conﬁrmed that the doors of the barracks, now a military museum, will be open from 9am to 5pm for residents to pay their respects to the leader of South American nation’s Bolivarian Revolution.
“Here we will see this place become a site of pilgrimage for revolutionary men and women, for the people of the world, for Christians and for those who saw in Chavez hope and the possibility of a different world”, Villegas said.
FLOWER OF FOUR ELEMENTS
Chavez’s tomb was designed by Venezuelan architect Fruto Vivas and is named “The Flower of The Four Elements”.
“He had to rest upon a ﬂower”, said Vivas, explaining the logic behind the beautiful design.
“The ﬂower means rebirth, and he helped rebirth our nation, now he will be reborn as the homeland is built”, he added.
All four elements: ﬁre, earth, air and water are represented in the tomb site. The former President’s casket rests on top of a platform designed as a ﬂower, which in turn lays on water.
The site is open air and also sits on the earth below. An eternal ﬂame burns at the head of the casket, which is also guarded by four Presidential Honor Guards, 24 hours a day.
Every day at 4:25pm, the time of Chavez’s passing, cannon balls will be ﬁred outside the tomb museum, in remembrance of the Venezuelan leader.