Culture House Daily

Carry On El Comandante. Does the world need a Hugo Chavez exhibition?

7 March 2014

1:33 PM

7 March 2014

1:33 PM

The other day I got an invitation to a do called ‘For Now and Forever – a reception and photo exhibition celebrating the life of Hugo Chávez’, with speeches by various left-wing notables, including the one and only Len McCluskey. It’s been a year since Venezuela’s cuddly comandante passed away, and supporters of his Bolivarian revolution want you to know it.

Attracted by the prospect of a free glass of wine and the comedy value of hearing somebody say ‘¡Hasta la Victoria Siempre!’ unironically, it was a no-brainer. And so I found myself in Fitzrovia’s Bolívar Hall, surrounded by the most 70s crowd this side of a Van der Graaf Generator revival. There were a few Latin American indignados, hundreds of nice Home Counties undergrads in Ché berets and a handful of Ken Loach lookalikes, all wearing slogan T-shirts. Viva la Revolución.


The selection of images on display took a fair few liberties with the word ‘exhibition’; a half dozen laminated posters with laminated borders bore widely-reproduced photos of El Comandante as a young paratrooper; El Comandante kissing children; El Comandante driving a train; El Comandante pointing at a map with a stick (seriously). Hardly Lenin’s mausoleum, then, but hey-ho.

Alicia Castro, Argentinian ambassador to the UK and the night’s first speaker marched onstage. ‘¡Hasta la Victoria Siempre!’ she cried, unironically. Half the audience downed their free wine and barged their way out. It seemed I wasn’t alone in my reasoning. ‘¡Brávo!’, cried the remainder, to be polite. ‘He was a great strategist,’ Castro continued, ‘It is clear that Venezuela is under a massive internacionál media attack’. I got some nasty looks transcribing that into my notebook.

Next it was the turn of one of the Ken Loach lookalikes. ‘It’s a great, erm, privilege to…’ – wait, it was Ken Loach! – ‘… uh, be here…’. Ken continued this thrilling speech by quoting a few other peoples’ right-on words (‘No man is an island’, etc). Then, for some reason, he scarpered, leaving the stage open for the great general secretary himself. But where was comrade Len?

Not here, as it turned out. He was busy strangling the Labour Party, and as such sent an apologetic flunky to speak in his place. Cue much talk of ‘Throwing off. The yoke. Of Imperialism.’ Despite the constant mid-sentence pauses, he did a pretty good job of out-effusing the other speakers. Chávez was ‘a fantastic leader of the world left and socialism movement,’ oh yes he was. ‘On behalf of Unite – Hugo Chávez – ¡Viva!

More Spectator for less. Stay informed leading up to the EU referendum and in the aftermath. Subscribe and receive 15 issues delivered for just £15, with full web and app access. Join us.

Show comments
  • Arin O’A

    Ok, so everyone gets upset because Chávez wouldn’t play ball with the US when it came to selling his country’s oil, he stood his ground so he’s a villain.

  • BarkingAtTreehuggers

    Bring it to Londinium and then Mancunia just before nationalising West Coast Rail.

  • Dutchnick

    Love it! The oxygen of publicity will undermine the fatuous twaddle by
    which the left the perpetuates the myth of this truly great leader. It always
    amazes me how the appalling corruption in Venezuela is over looked in the name
    of the great hoax of Socialism. This is a country that is wealthy, very wealthy
    yet the poverty and plain lack of good in the shops is a disgrace. We do business in South America the corruption in Brazil and Argentina is
    bad but Venezuela is frankly in a league of its own.

    • BarkingAtTreehuggers

      Blatant theft of the national resource seized by a centralist ineptocrat
      pseudo elite in a make-it-up-as-we-go-along judicial system?
      Just like in Scotland then.

  • global city

    Yes…. stupid Lefties indeed!

    • post_x_it

      They know how to have a good time.

Can't find your Web ID? Click here