Get thee behind me, Nicolás Maduro

By Carlos Alberto Montaner*


President Nicolás Maduro told the story quaking with emotion. Hugo Chávez had appeared before the workmen who are digging the Caracas subway. There are many unanswered questions. People wonder if it was a paranormal phenomenon or a figment of an abnormal mind. Chávez's face appeared, mysteriously and unexpectedly, on a wall. Later it vanished. It was a fleeting visit but there was time to photograph the apparition. The photo was sent to Maduro. It is unclear whether Chávez himself sent it or if the proletarians did. It showed the vigilant eyes of the late Bolivarian leader, perhaps amazed to see Venezuelans still working in his country.


Like God, Chávez is everywhere, Maduro said. Chávez is all of us. As everyone knows, Chávez speaks with Maduro through the birds. From now on, perhaps the walls will take part in the dialogue. Why not? If Chávez is going to appear on walls, how hard could it be for him to say a few words? Walls have ears, said Ruiz de Alarcón. Maduro is hoping that they will also have tongues. And that they'll speak clearly.


In any case, it is very likely that, in the future, Maduro will include cats among his interlocutors in the Great Beyond. Cats adapt well to the esoteric world. The Egyptians considered them sacred animals and beheaded anyone who mistreated them. When extrasensory communications reach that point, however, it will be convenient to separate the chatty cats from the talkative birds so the felines won't eat them. Instincts are instincts.


On the other hand, it is not feasible for Chávez to speak to Maduro through the dogs. Chávez and Maduro get along well with the Muslims, and dogs are not well liked by Mohammed's tribe. Dogs are not reliable interlocutors. They lie a lot, except for the St. Bernards, perhaps out of respect for the saint they're named after. The rest will say anything. Who can trust a message delivered by a cocker spaniel? You can see their duplicity, their banal intention to win over the recipient of their message, as they wag their tails cunningly.


It is possible, however, that the whole thing is a joke. Chávez's appearance on the miraculous wall occurred on the eve of Halloween. In life, Chávez was a tireless joker. Trick or treat.


Chávez appointed Maduro as his successor and Jaua as foreign minister, more or less the way Caligula, who also enjoyed black humor, appointed his horse, Incitatus, to the Senate. Not even Groucho Marx, Karl's grandson, would have come up with something like that.


Nor can it be ruled out that all this is a maneuver by the Devil aimed at confusing Maduro and his followers. Beelzebub is capable of anything. Beelzebub is also all of us. He has a legendary evil disposition, as Adam and Eve can testify. (Not Adán Chávez but the real Adam, the one of the apple, the serpent and the modest fig leaf). This year is the fourth anniversary of the premiere of “The Exorcist” and perhaps the Devil wants revenge on the Jesuit who drew the demon Pazuzu out of the depths of the foul-speaking Regan McNeal, the girl with the most flexible neck in the history of human necks.


In that case, it will be necessary to exorcize Maduro. One of the most effective incantations is to stand at the level of his mouth (give him a mint lozenge first) and shout into him the prayer of St. Michael the Archangel, invoking the five most harmful demons, Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub, Belial and Meridian (there's no evidence that Diosdado Cabello is part of that group): “O prince of the celestial host, plunge into Hell all the evil spirits who are prowling the world seeking the ruination of the souls.” Amen.


*Journalist and writer. His latest book is the novel Goodbye Again