Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said yesterday before a gathering of his party's members that workers in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas who were excavating a tunnel for a planned expansion of its subway had stumbled upon the image of late former president Hugo Chávez. Holding aloft a photo which one of the workers had snapped of the supposed appearance, Maduro told the audience, "Look at this figure that appeared to the workers. Who's in this face? A look. A look of this country which is everywhere, even in phenomena which have no explanation."
According to El Universal, Maduro told his supporters, "[The workers] showed me a cell phone and on the cell phone, they had a photo. They told me, 'Look, Maduro, look at this photo, we took it at two in the morning a number of days ago. We were working and all of a sudden, a figure appeared to us here, on this big wall down here in the tunnel." He added, "It makes the hairs on my body stand on end just telling it."
Chávez passed away last March 5 in Caracas at age 58 after a long battle with cancer. Maduro, who was appointed vice president in 2012, edged out opposition candidate Henrique Capriles by less than 300,000 votes in elections that followed the president's death. Maduro has eagerly taken up the informal sanctification of Chávez which began to spring up in many of the country's shantytowns shortly after his death -- during the 14-day electoral campaigns, in perhaps the most famous example, he claimed that the late president had appeared to him in the form of a "little birdie", in what quickly became a frequent object of mockery in many opposition quarters. He has also become known for other unfortunate verbal gaffes - during a nationally televised speech in August in which he sought to make a reference to the Biblical story of Jesus Christ's multiplication of the fish, he confused the word for "fish" ("peces") with that for "penises" ("penes").
"Right now, the image isn't there," he said on Wednesday. "Just as it appeared, it disappeared. So you can all see that what you all say is true: Chávez is everywhere. Chávez is you. Boy, girl, woman, artisan, worker." Check out a video of Maduro as he addresses his audience of supporters below.