Venezuela's interim President Nicolas Maduro, left, and Argentina's soccer legend Diego Armando Maradona embrace as they visit the tomb of late President Hugo Chavez in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, April 12, 2013.
Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro on April 14, 2013.AP2013
Widely known for his devotion to late leader Hugo Chávez, now Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has revealed that he sometimes sleeps in the mausoleum where his mentor's remains are kept.
Maduro was Chávez's vice president and named by him as his successor before he died. During the campaign for the April 14 election he narrowly won, Maduro caused a furor when he said Chávez came to him in the form of a little bird that flew around his head.
The bird, a reincarnation of Chávez according to Maduro, visited him during his run for the presidency and this past June, when it told him he liked the way the country was being run.
Venezuela's president resorted to Chávez's image again last Thursday when, during an act at the former military museum where Chávez's remains are kept, he said: "I sometimes come at night. At times, many times, I sleep here."
He said he sometimes comes with a retinue. "We enter at night and we stay to sleep. At night we reflect on things here."
Peter Hakim, president emeritus and senior fellow of the Inter-American Dialogue, a think tank, said Maduro knows his limitations and is aware that the only way to hold on to power is to hold on to Chávez.
"Some would look at this and say it’s a little strange for someone to try and talk to a person who’s already died" said Hakim. “But Maduro knows that his first task is to hold together the Chavista group."
According to EFE, at a tribute to Chávez last Monday Maduro compared him to Jesus Christ, saying that like the political figure "[he] came to protect those who had nothing."
"Christ the Redeemer became flesh ... became truth in Chavez," said Maduro from the Cuartel de la Montaña in western Caracas, where Chávez's remains are.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press and EFE.