Seven Years Without Chavez

Atilio Borón

This Thursday, March 5, marks the seventh anniversary of the departure of the Eternal Commander, one of the great figures in the contemporary history of Latin America and the Caribbean. Having written a few lines for a brief remembrance of an unforgettable character, I realized that seven is a very special number. In all religions it is assigned a singular value: Catholicism, Judaism, Hinduism… even in classical Greece, seven had a special meaning.

For the former, because seven is the gift of the Holy Spirit, the deadly sins, the sacraments and the days it took God to create the world. For the Kabbalah, the mystical interpretation of the Torah of the Jews, the sacred candlestick must have seven arms, as many as the columns of the temple of Solomon.

In Hinduism, seven are the chakras of being and the sacred cities of India. In classical Greece, they spoke of the seven sages, they delighted in listening to the seven musical notes or contemplating the seven colors of the rainbow, while their astronomers observed the evolution of the seven phases of the Moon and took note of the seven days of the week.

This brief digression originated in a reading lost in time of a phrase which I read and which at the time made a vivid impression upon me: The seven represented the bridge between deity and mortals. And it occurred to me that dear Hugo would be, perhaps today, who knows where, crossing that bridge that made him a deity. This is, in memory, a surprisingly close presence, an experience that has the capacity to influence the actions of those of us who still remain in the world of the living.

Dante Alighieri and Jorge Luis Borges often referred to this issue as something very special. And so was Chávez, hence this curious association. He had that condition that, once he left this world, would turn him into a “memory that moves women and men”, that influences them, calls them to act, not to resign themselves to the cruel challenges of the empire.

That is why today, exactly seven years after it was sown, we need it more than ever. This Latin America, lacerated and torn apart by the aggression of the world’s dictator who occupies the White House -who is the police, prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner of the rest of the world-, needs more than ever the loving presence of the Commander, and his healthy influence. He is the one who in the United Nations said “it smells of sulfur here” after George W. Bush left the podium.

We need him to guide us with his example and his immense legacy, with that torch of freedom and national self-determination that he wielded so high and so brightly.

Chavez was, as I have said so many times, the enormous quarterback that Fidel, the brilliant Cuban strategist, needed to give the empire its most resounding defeat in the now distant days of 2005 in Mar del Plata. His planting, far from erasing him from the political scene, increased his presence and his gravitation in the struggles of our peoples, starting with the heroic resistance of the beloved Venezuela against the war waged by the United States.

Because of one of those mysteries that universal history reserves only for the great, his death made him an immortal figure. Fidel was right when, upon learning of his death, he said: “Not even he himself suspected how great he was”.