Guess which European country held a nationwide, three-day official period of mourning after the death of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez?
This country didn’t mourn after a blast in the underground that killed a dozen people (only the capital mourned, the city where it happened). It didn’t join European nations in mourning when half the Polish ruling elite perished in a plane crash. It didn’t mourn the victims of the Japanese nuclear disaster.
But this time it’s different. Even the celebration of International Women’s Day on 8 March is postponed.
It’s all about ideology. There is a country in Europe that wants to be a twin brother to far-away Venezuela. To rely on its own oil, erratically choose its allies and foes; be generous with the first and dismissive with the latter. Stay populist and popular, win elections… Till death do us … Well, you know.
Regimes are similar all over the world. For this reason they are categorised and labelled. And so are the people who embody them.
When your authoritarian twin at the other end of the world dies, you write an epitaph that you hope will be read out for you:
“Our hearts have been rocked by the sad news … the untimely death of one of the greatest statesmen and leaders of our time, a tenacious hero, a flaming patriot and fighter for independence, an outstanding politician, thinker and public speaker, a brilliant, strong and life-loving man whose life was completely and entirely devoted to the service of the Fatherland… led his nation to happiness and freedom with a strong and firm hand. He was and I am sure will remain in the hearts of millions of people, who will remember him as the true farther of the nation, a defender of the poor, underprivileged and oppressed, a focus of hopes and a pillar of democracy on the continent.”
It is the President of Belarus who believes that the name of Hugo Chavez, “should be inscribed with golden letters on the scroll of world history.” Or even, beyond history.
“Your cause will last forever,” Lukashenka concluded.
He went to Caracas to take part in the funeral.
This official grief in Belarus is indeed a bit exaggerated. But little wonder. When fear of your own death is so big.