Recently deceased Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez is officially joining the ranks of Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong, Kim Il Sung, and Ferdinand Marcos—yes, El Jefe is now a member of the Glass Coffin Club for Villains and Dictators (not to be confused with the Glass Coffin Club for Saints and Martyrs).
According to the Associated Press, Venezuela’s “Vice President Nicolas Maduro says the remains will be put on permanent display at the Museum of the Revolution” and “displayed in a glass casket so that ‘his people will always have him.’ ”
Think of all the class trips that will be taken to the Museum of the Revolution so the Children of the Hugo Mummy can get up close and personal with the anticapitalist cadaver. The lines at first will no doubt be long—the kids will probably have to wait behind Danny Glover and Sean Penn. But perhaps there will be memorabilia in display cases to keep them occupied—a beret here, a handkerchief there. And maybe they can watch a videotaped message from Joe Kennedy thanking the late dictator for the gift of heating oil to the low-income community of Massachusetts.
If museum officials have even the slightest of capitalist tendencies, they might want to direct the visitors to the exits through the gift store, where they can buy postcards and T-shirts saying “I’m stuffed!” or “Feeling stiff?”
Then again, if a different regime better representing the people of Venezuela takes power, Chávez’s remains might end up as just a temporary exhibit and eventually be buried along with his legacy. We can only hope.