Supporters of Venezuela’s late socialist leader Hugo Chavez on Monday unveiled yet another novel way of keeping his memory alive – a font for typing in the handwriting style of “El Comandante.”
The distinctive “ChavezPro“ font was launched by a group of young self-styled “anti-imperialists” to coincide with nationwide commemorations of the 60th anniversary of his birth.
Mr. Chavez’s bold scrawl became famous to Venezuelans as he used to spend hours on national TV writing and drawing on boards and papers to explain policies, develop ideas and sign deals.
His signature – in red for socialist – adorns T-shirts, baseball caps and the walls of buildings around the country.
The new font can be downloaded for free from the “Creative Trench” group’s website (www.trincheracreativa.com).
To digitize his handwriting, they used letters written by Mr. Chavez while he was in jail for a failed 1992 coup attempt.
“The best present!” enthused one Chavista via Twitter. “The typography of the giant!”
Government opponents roll their eyes at the deification of Mr. Chavez, and his ubiquitous presence in public life. They see it as a cover for the failings of his successor, Nicolas Maduro, who was elected after Mr. Chavez died of cancer last year.
Images of Mr. Chavez’s eyes, face and clenched fist are stencilled and reproduced all over Venezuela. Recordings of his voice also thunder out at government rallies, singing the national anthem or exhorting the people: “You are all Chavez!”
Fireworks at midnight marked the beginning of Monday’s commemorations, which are being led by Mr. Maduro with some foreign leaders in tow prior to a summit of South American bloc Mercosur.
Later, Mr. Maduro led a ceremony at Mr. Chavez’s rural hometown of Sabaneta in the Venezuelan plains, where he was born.
Mr. Maduro, who was widely mocked by foes last year for claiming to have seen Mr. Chavez’s spirit in a bird, said he had received another apparition on Monday.
“A little bird approached me again,” he told relatives of Mr. Chavez and officials at the event, imitating a bird whistle. “The little bird said El Comandante was happy, full of the love and loyalty of his people. He must be proud, happy.”
Mr. Maduro and others sang happy birthday to the deceased Mr. Chavez around a large cake. Some supporters wiped away tears.
Over the weekend, the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela held a first congress without Mr. Chavez, but it named him their “eternal leader” while also voting in Mr. Maduro as the new party president.
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