CARACAS – A multidisciplinary team of some 50 forensic scientists analyzed the remains of the Liberator Simon Bolivar in Caracas, an undertaking that Venezuelan Interior Minister Tarek El Aissami, who observed the work, described as “important” on the state channel Venezolana de Television.
“This is a day of rejoicing amid the bicentennial of our independence,” the minister said, adding that the discoveries will be announced “in due time” as a “tribute to history.”
The operation, which began Thursday and took some 19 hours, was also observed by Attorney General Luisa Ortega, and was revealed later by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez around 1:00 a.m. Friday on his Twitter account.
“Beginning this very morning we will be announcing details of the scientific procedure being carried out with Bolivar’s heroic remains,” the president said.
One purpose of the disinterment, according to accounts released in the Venezuelan capital, is to determine whether Bolivar died of tuberculosis, the historically accepted version, or was assassinated, as Chavez believes.
“I’m not convinced that Bolivar died of tuberculosis” because “three months before he died, Bolivar traveled I don’t know how many kilometers to Bogota,” he said in November 2007.
Present at the examination, performed at the National Pantheon in Caracas, were El Aissami and Ortega.
Other messages issued by Chavez reflected, beyond the scientific study, the emotional nature of the exhumation and analysis of Bolivar’s remains.
“Hello, my friends! What an impressive time we have been through tonight! We have seen the remains of the great Bolivar! I said with Neruda: Our Father who art in the earth, in the water and in the air, awaken every 100 years when the people awake,” Chavez said.
“I confess that we have wept, that we have taken oaths. I tell you: this glorious skeleton must be Bolivar, because you can feel his flame,” he said.
And he added: “My God, my God; my Christ, our Christ, while we pray in silence upon seeing those bones, I thought of You! And how I would have liked and how much I wanted You to come and order as if to Lazarus: Arise, Simon, this is not the time to die. And immediately I remembered that Bolivar lives!”
In two succeeding talks on different subjects, which all TV channels and radio stations were obliged to air, Chavez repeatedly referred to the matter, and in the second, around midnight, part of the video was televised showing clearly the skeleton of the hero of independence.
The airing of the images on TV was accompanied by the national anthem with the president and his audience standing at attention.