"Chavez is life!" - adulation in overdrive on Venezuelan media

Tue Dec 18, 2012 2:53pm EST
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By Daniel Wallis

CARACAS (Reuters) - Gathered in the yard of a small home in the Venezuelan countryside, a young man with dreadlocks asks a bearded musician clutching a guitar: "Who can Chavez rely on?"

"All of us! Let me tell you who we are," the older man replies, breaking into song over gritty images of working-class life in the South American country led by socialist President Hugo Chavez.

"We are the poor. We are all with Chavez!" he sings, over footage of construction workers, farmers and youngsters in the ghetto lip-syncing to the lyrics.

The video is the latest in a wave of adoring coverage that is running around the clock on state television as Chavez, 58, fights to recover from cancer surgery.

Chavez has been the dominant figure in Venezuela since he won power 14 years ago, forging a passionate following based on his charisma, humble birth and massive social spending.

His new absence in Cuba - and the possibility that after his fourth operation in 18 months he could die or be unable to continue as president - has sent a shockwave through supporters.

Punctuated by occasional bulletins on the president's condition, government media have pushed their always Chavez-heavy output to hagiographic levels - especially ahead of the December 16 regional elections in which his ruling Socialist Party hammered the opposition by winning 20 out of 23 states.

One video, set to uplifting music, is a montage of prayers for Chavez's health from around the country, with military officers, government ministers and regular Venezuelans hugging.   Continued...

Supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez react while watching a government national TV broadcast with news about the president's health in Caracas in this December 14, 2012 file photograph. REUTERS/Jorge Silva/Files