[News] Nicolas Maduro: "Until the Last Day, Chavez Wanted to Live"

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Apr 4 12:19:51 EDT 2013

  Interview with Nicolas Maduro: "Until the Last Day, Chavez Wanted to Live"


By Panorama, April 2nd 2013

The following is Part 2 of an interview of Nicolas Maduro by Panorama.

/When Nicolás Maduro talks about President Chávez his face changes, his 
eyes too, he swallows hard at times, like a son when talking about a 
father who is no longer there./

*Aren't there risks of fractures within the PSUV to guarantee this 
triumph you speak of?*

We are in the best moment for motivation, commitment to the ideas of 
President Chávez, unity amongst ourselves on the politico-military team 
directing the revolution, among the most distinguished and recognized 
sectors of the revolution, we have a brotherly relationship.

The blow of losing President Chávez has been terrible, tragic. I, 
personally, when I wake up in the mornings, I look at the ceiling and 
think of him, because every morning I got up with the day's agenda, and 
that was to call him. It's incredible because he's not there anymore 
physically, but that has motivated us a lot in taking on our 
responsibilities. It's not easy, because in effect Chávez is a giant and 
we are ordinary, common, run-of-the-mill people. The only thing that can 
fill the giant space of Chávez is the people, the other giant. There are 
those two giants and us, the articulators of the process which is 
complex but which will work out well.

What our people did 200 years ago is hard to find in the universal 
history of humanity. President Chávez reawakened it. I remember once, in 
Lisbon, Portugal, when we were talking about this subject, because we 
were travelling a lengthy road and he said to me: "Nicolás, what 
happened is that our people have always had in their genes the glory of 
the liberators. No one could take it from them, and that glory was only 
waiting for someone to press a button." It's like pressing a button for 
the genes to activate once more. He pressed the button of the liberatory 
genes of the Venezuelan people and that button made it possible to build 
all the consciousness on which this revolutionary process rests.

*There are radicalisms on both sides, especially in Chavismo now. There 
is so much emotion. It's a moment that demands responsibility from 
political actors. What will be your quota of responsibility?*

Everything, and we've already demonstrated it. Remember, since the day 
the president was operated, on December 11, we started. Review all the 
videos. Between Ernesto [Villegas] and myself, who were the official 
spokespeople, we started by sending a message of peace. We knew it was 
in the hearts of the people and we knew that the irresponsibility of the 
opposition, of some of its spokespeople, joking about the president's 
illness, prognosticating and making fun of the possible death of the 
president, could have provoked in Venezuela a "Bogotazo", a "Gaitanazo". 
We faced that possibility every day, and we came out to tell the people 
and the Bolivarian National armed forces: peace, peace, peace.

That day, March 5, we held a meeting because the doctors had told us 
that his symptoms were grave. That had already happened in December and 
January as well, and the /Comandante/ had always overcome those symptoms 
but this time the doctors told us: "It's a special situation now". We 
ourselves had always believed and prayed to God that he would recover 
again, because weeks before we had seen him in good spirits. We took 
precautions, we met with the Military High Command, the entire 
political-military directorate of the revolution met and we said: "All 
right, we have to prepare." If it happened, we would have to deploy all 
the Armed Forces, all the leaders of the revolution in all the states of 
Venezuela, to talk to the people and make sure that they, in their 
grief, would not fall into frustration and a desire for revenge. We were 
very close to that happening.

On March 5, at 5:15 in the afternoon, I gave the news, that sad and 
painful news. I almost lost my voice, and when I was done telling the 
first part, I heard a cry, a scream, and I was afraid. I thought: The 
violence is exploding, the people's anger. Fortunately, it was only a 
cry of grief.

For that reason, when that gentleman candidate of the opposition, whom 
I've called the Pharisee of the hour, the Pontius Pilate of the hour, 
started to mess with the President, we were in full mourning, holding a 
wake over the body of the /Comandante/ Hugo Chávez, and he started 
talking insanities about the day of the /Comandante's/ death, meddling 
with his family, with the honor of our /Comandante/, with the moral 
purity of Hugo Chávez, I left immediately. If I had stayed one hour 
longer on Sunday night without leaving, violence could have broken out 
on the spot.

*You were one of the people closest to Chávez from June 11, 2011 (when 
he announced his first operation) to March 5, 2013. Looking back on his 
illness, what was the hardest part? Did you prepare mentally for these 
challenges? How was that year and a half with the president ill?*

The spirit and strength of the president at all times was impressive. He 
underwent some very deep, hard operations, and he always recovered 
quickly and with great strength. Fundamentally, through his will to 
live, an energy, a call to life. When he went for chemotherapy, there 
were five sessions, the first three in Havana, one here in the Military 
Hospital, and the last one again in Havana. I recall that he called me 
at 6:00 in the morning, and told me: "Come here". I arrived at 7:00 and 
he was in the middle of chemo, which was administered via saline 
solution, and we stayed nearly till 10 o'clock that night without 
resting. Around 2:00 in the afternoon he had lunch and rested half an 
hour, then immediately we started talking, reading, studying. I 
telephoned Caracas, to give orders, then passed on some messages to him. 
He got busy painting; he painted a portrait of Néstor Kirchner, a 
picture of the Moncada Barracks, and one of the Cuartel de la Montaña, 
where he is now.

Later came the other big blow, in February. We saw he was so strong that 
no one could have imagined that there had been another recurrence. He 
had talked for nearly 10 hours in the National Assembly, I believe on 
the 15th of January. They operated on him and that week we were doing a 
program in the room right next to his, live. And another, and another, 
and another.

Then came the radiotherapy, and that was very hard. It was the hardest 
moment, very hard, but he was undaunted. He completed the radiotherapy, 
they did tests and he was fine, perfect, and June 11, a year after the 
first operation, he registered as a candidate. The campaign was intense, 
clearly, as he said, he went into the ring with his hands tied, that's 
why he campaigned like a machine.

The elections happened, a great triumph and, immediately, maybe because 
of the sudden drop in adrenaline after the election fight, he started to 
feel a lot of pain.

Every time we talked, he was in a lot of pain. That was a second hard 
time, after the radiotherapy, after the elections. Because of the pains, 
he decided to undergo hyperbaric oxygen chamber therapy. Sadly, in the 
middle of that treatment, they examined him, and found, in the same 
place, a recurrence.

I remember that on Sunday, December 2, I haven't told this before, he 
called me. I was in the National Pantheon conducting an inspection of 
the repairs to the Pantheon, etcetera, for the ceremony on December 17, 
hoping that his treatment would be over and he would be coming back. In 
the afternoon I got the call and he told me, "There are complications." 
Well, that was a tremendous blow, and he asked me to assemble a 
commission. There were Diosdado [Cabello], Rafael Ramírez, Cilia 
[Flores, Maduro's wife], and Jorge Arreaza, and I told them what the 
experts had found. He always asked for all the details from the doctors, 
he had the intuition that he would not come out from the operation.

When they told me upon his return that he'd had that intuition, I was 
almost certain that he would not be wrong and, well, I cried for a long 
time one morning because I knew it would be that way.

He called me and I went on December 5 to talk, from 10 at night to 6 in 
the morning, we talked a lot. He would never have told me this, that if 
he were to die, or something would happen to incapacitate him, I would 
take the reins of the revolution, that I would assume the presidency and 
the possibility of a candidacy. He called me in to tell me this 
personally, during more than six hours of conversation, in the early 
morning of December 6, in Cuba.

Then we left, in separate airplanes, I arrived first, and he arrived 
later. He told me: "I've decided, and I told the doctors to guarantee it 
because they wanted to operate on me right away, that I could come back 
to talk to the people, to tell them all these things. He told only a 
small part, barely what he wanted to say, because we recommended it, I 
said, "President, don't tell this to the people," and he told me: "It's 
my historic responsibility, it's the least I can do."

On December 7, we met again, and on the 8th he said what he said. He 
went, the operation was very hard, as you know, and later came the worst 
part of all he had lived through. Nearly 90 days of ups and downs, 
sometimes more downs than ups, of grave situations, managed 
scientifically and medically the perfect way, correctly. In that moment, 
all the people who supported us in the world knew that he was in the 
hands of the best doctors and scientists in the fight against cancer 
that Cuba had taught, but with the help of many scientist from all over 
the world.

On December 30, when I read the communiqué, he almost left us, he was 
very close to it. Suddenly, in January, he miraculously recovered. Until 
the very last day he wanted to live and believed he would go on living, 
and gave orders up to the end. That spirit is an immortal spirit, 
really, and the recognition, the homage the people of Venezuela paid, 
has been extraordinary. The opinion polls say 70, 80% of Venezuelans 
recognize that Hugo Chávez has made history in our country. And now it's 
up to us, he fought his battle up to the last second, he left a mission 
yet to be finished. Now it's up to me to complete this mission as 
President of the Republic, it's up to all of us who loved him, this 
country, to complete that mission.

*And what did you feel about witnessing that?*

It's a very difficult responsibility.

*Were you afraid?*

No. I'm not afraid. The only fear I could have is of failing, but I 
sense that I'm not going to fail. I've come to think that President 
Chávez prepared me for this. I didn't know it, but he was preparing me, 
and I won't speak individually, he was preparing us to be a cohesive 
team: Rafael Ramírez, Diosdado, Cilia, all of the Armed Forces, the 
military chiefs of the High Command, all the young militaries who rose 
to all the ranks, the PSUV, the Great Patriotic Pole --- Comandante 
Chávez did what was impossible for Bolívar to do. The Liberator could 
not prepare the country for life after his death. He couldn't. First 
they killed Sucre, who was like his son, and who was going to be his 
political and military heir; then everyone betrayed him --- Juan José 
Flores in Quito, Santander in Bogotá, Páez in Valencia. Urdaneta was the 
most loyal of the loyal, and he would have been president, had Bolívar 
lived after 1830 it's for certain that Urdaneta would have been his new 

/Comandante/ Chávez believed he would live a while longer, and be at the 
head of the nation. As well, he believed he would be at the head of the 
nation without being president of the Republic. He came to think that at 
a given time, he would do what Fidel has done, and direct with his 
authority and gigantic morality the new phase of the revolution, and 
prepare for his departure, but, well, he couldn't get to that point. He 
called that the third scenario.

He left us prepared with the Constitution of 1999, he left us his 
political testament, it's an extraordinary document to study, he left us 
precise orders for the work teams, he left the will in my hand, which is 
not the hand of just one man, or just one human being. I don't know why 
he made that decision, I never asked him, my voice wouldn't come out, it 
wasn't pertinent to do so, it never occurred to me to do so. But, well, 
I took the will of President Chávez, which is a collective will, my hand 
is that of millions, of a team. He left a prepared team, which is the 
one we call the politico-military directorate of the revolution, the 
political high command, the Government, the governors, the Great 
Patriotic Pole, the Military High command, and our Armed Forces on the 

When has this country ever had so much strength? Never, ever. He also 
left the country's finances organized, the funds, the income, now 
everything's transparent, so now we have no more excuses for failure. 
We're prepared for a victory, it's what I feel in the streets...

In Venezuela I saw an effervescence, I lived it, what I'm seeing now in 
the streets is the highest level of popular effervescence since 1994. I 
can only compare it with 1994 and 2006, two peak moments in the mythical 
and historical leadership of /Comandante/ Chávez. The people are 
converting their pain and their feelings of having lost their father, 
their orphanhood, into fervor. I have no vanity of any kind, my ego 
doesn't exist, I know these displays of love are not for me, they're for 
Chávez. The people look at me and say "We're voting for you for Chávez, 
for Chávez's sake we're voting for you..." We can't fail, I'm sure we 
are going to win by more than 10 million votes, the only thing left is 
what the people will give us on April 14.

/Translation by Sabina Becker 

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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