But it was all theater. All of it. From his silly alliance to Castro, to the red shirt, all theater up until the end. “Chavez” is the name of a famous clown series on latin American Television.
Close to tears and his voice cracking, Vice President Nicolás Maduro said he and other officials had gone to the military hospital where Mr. Chávez was being treated, sequestered from the public, when “we received the hardest and most tragic information that we could transmit to our people.”
In short order, police officers and soldiers were highly visible as people ran through the streets, calling loved ones on cellphones, rushing to get home. Caracas, the capital, which had just received news that the government was throwing out two American military attachés it accused of sowing disorder, quickly became an enormous traffic jam. Stores and shopping malls abruptly closed.
As darkness fell, somber crowds congregated in the main square of Caracas and at the military hospital, with men and women crying openly in sadness and fear about what would come next.
What about us, here in the United States? He had very close friends. Yes, very close. Oliver Stone, Sean Penn, a Kennedy and others in the Hollywood crowd. What exactly do we feel?
He did create one of the most amazing CULTURAL programs in existence, as for instance, the Simon Bolivar Orchestra. Hard not to cry.
In one neighborhood, Chávez supporters set fire to tents and mattresses used by university students who had chained themselves together in protest several days earlier to demand more information about Mr. Chávez’s condition.
“Are you happy now?” the Chávez supporters shouted as they ran through the streets with sticks. “Chávez is dead! You got what you wanted!”
Is that what we wanted?
Are We happy now? Are we?
New York, March 5, 2013