MANAGUA, Nicaragua – Nicaragua’s First Lady Rosario Murillo on Sunday night dedicated a traffic circle in the capital city to former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez with an enormous, flamboyantly illuminated monument of his bust.
The memorial, featuring the late South American president’s face above a sun with a myriad of swirly colors and three golden trees, is composed entirely of light bulbs so the image can be seen day and night.
Speaking at the inauguration of the roundabout – which for the past decade was known as the Colón traffic circle and now carries the wordy moniker “the Hugo Chávez Eternal Comandante Rotonda” – Murillo said Nicaragua should honor the “hero” Chávez, who died of cancer on March 5.
“He is the son of our liberator, Simón Bolívar,” Murillo said in her characteristically poetic style as she swung her bejeweled hands in the air.
“He is a hero of Latin America that has helped the poorest countries, … and his spirit lives on in our hearts,” she told a crowd of a few hundred people sporting pro-Sandinista T-shirts the government distributed for free last week in celebration of the country’s 1979 revolution.
In a July 19 ceremony attended by thousands of party loyalists and aired on every national television station, Nicaraguan officials touted the country’s “stronger-than-ever” friendship with Venezuela, and President Daniel Ortega declared boldly that, “God gave us Chávez.”
“Without Chávez, no one would invest in Nicaragua,” Ortega said, adding that, “We will end poverty in Nicaragua as we have begun to do thanks to the miracle of Chávez.”
Ortega said the former Venezuelan leader had helped Nicaraguans with oil, energy plants, transport and basic infrastructure.
Venezuelan National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello added that Venezuelan aid would continue under the leadership of current President Nicolás Maduro.
“The people of Nicaragua can count on Venezuela. Commander Chávez lives!” he bellowed.
Ortega did not attend Sunday’s ceremony, although Venezuela’s ambassador to Nicaragua, Javier Arrue, briefly accompanied the first lady.
Nicaraguan officials did not respond to a Tico Times request about the cost of the memorial.