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Don't Cry For Me, Venezuela: Chavez Musical In The Works In Belarus

The late Venezuelan president was often seen singing and strumming a guitar.
The late Venezuelan president was often seen singing and strumming a guitar.
MINSK -- Music lovers in Belarus will soon be treated to a show honoring the life of late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.

The Belarusian Music Theater has announced it is working on a Spanish-language musical in collaboration with Venezuelan artists.

"In Memory of Hugo Chavez" is scheduled to premiere this summer in Minsk and later in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas.

The Minsk-Novosti news agency reported that the music would be composed by Gerardo Estrada, the first secretary of the Venezuelan Embassy in Belarus and a seasoned musician.

Olga Gudazhnikava, a spokeswoman for the theater, told RFE/RL that the musical's director was currently unavailable for comment.

The news from Minsk will come as no surprise to those who have witnessed Chavez's own musical antics and knew of his friendship with Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
Chavez (left) enjoyed a good relationship with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
Chavez (left) enjoyed a good relationship with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka

The "comandante," who died from cancer last year aged 58 after a 14-year tenure as Venezuelan president, was regularly seen crooning and playing the guitar.

One of his favorite repertoires was Venezuelan traditional music, which he regularly performed at political rallies, during his weekly television show, or even on stage, as during this 2006 performance at a Caracas theater.

In March 2012, one day after undergoing surgery to remove a second tumor, he sang along with musicians and danced with his daughter in a carefully orchestrated show intended to ease concerns about his health ahead of presidential elections.

Chavez was also known for breaking into song in the middle of his trademark marathon speeches.

In 2009, after addressing the United Nations for an entire hour, he sang a verse from the song "Meeting with Angels" by Cuban revolutionary singer Silvio Rodriguez, exhorting the world to be "a little bit better, and a little less selfish."

He also improvised a tune about his thorny relationship with then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a speech in June 2012.

"I'm not much loved by Hillary Clinton," he sang, "and I don't love her either."

Chavez's fierce anti-American rhetoric and melodramatic style earned him the admiration of the iron-fisted Lukashenka, who referred to the Latin American leader as his brother and invited him to the former Soviet country on five occasions.

The two countries have retained close ties since Chavez's death, with Belarus helping Venezuela develop its vast oil and natural-gas fields.

A park in Minsk was named after him last week.

-- Claire Bigg, based on reporting by RFE/RL's Belarus Service
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    RFE/RL's Belarus Service is one of the leading providers of news and analysis to Belarusian audiences in their own language. It is a bulwark against pervasive Russian propaganda and defies the government’s virtual monopoly on domestic broadcast media.

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