World Bulletin / News Desk
Venezuela's Hugo Chavez unveiled a 3D image of South America's 19th century independence hero Simon Bolivar on Tuesday, based on bones the president ordered exhumed two years ago to test his theory that Bolivar was murdered.
In a ceremony to mark the 229th anniversary of Bolivar's birth, senior government officials and military commanders clapped as Chavez and a group of school children unveiled the new image, which was based on scans of Bolivar's skull.
The socialist leader reveres Bolivar - he renamed the country the "Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela" - and has wrapped his leftist "revolution" in the imagery and language of the region's battle to break free of colonial power Spain.
"He was a true giant of the human cause, the human battle ... this is his face," Chavez said, sitting below two giant prints of a life-like depiction of a distinguished-looking Bolivar boasting a gold-braided uniform and prominent sideburns.
"Now we know with precision and receive with infinite intensity the luminous presence of this gaze, this living face."
The president, who is seeking a new six-year term in an Oct. 7 election, also tweeted a link to the image from a mobile phone on his @chavezcandanga account: http://t.co/TGzhfSCj
Chavez, in his fight against the "Yankee imperialism" of the United States, repeatedly invokes Bolivar, who is second only to Jesus as a figure of reverence in parts of South America.
Chavez normally gives televised speeches in front of large paintings of Bolivar, a brilliant Venezuelan soldier and military tactician who freed much of South America from centuries of Spanish rule. Chavez ordered a striking new mausoleum built for Bolivar's remains, which will be finished soon.
On Tuesday, he also held aloft two ornate antique pistols for the cameras, saying they had belonged to his hero.
'FIGHT FOR THE FATHERLAND'
Venezuela's opposition accuses the president of cynically seeking to boost his popularity by linking himself to Bolivar, and says he is really an autocrat who carefully avoids quoting some of Bolivar's words on freedom and rights.
Chavez denies it and cites Bolivar as the inspiration for his leftist policies. He has long suggested Bolivar was poisoned by enemies in Colombia, rejecting the more common version cited by historians that he died of tuberculosis there in 1830.
Two years ago, amid unusual scenes of a military honor guard in white biohazard suits and face masks exhuming the remains during a pre-dawn ceremony at the National Pantheon, the president assigned a team to investigate Bolivar's death.
A year ago, it reported back that "the Liberator" may have died of accidental poisoning - probably as a result of taking toxic medicines that were widely used at the time. They did not rule out tuberculosis.
After the scientist heading the 3D image project explained on Tuesday how it had been created using multiple scans and the latest forensic facial reconstruction methods, Chavez said Venezuelans were jubilant to see Bolivar's "real face" at last.
"And not just in Venezuela, but in all the countries of Latin America, the Caribbean and further afield," he said.
"I believe Bolivar is born again every day in every one of us, in these people, in these children ... in the fight for the fatherland which never ends."
Forestry and Water Minister Veysel Eroglu says Turkey ‘is among top three in terms of water projects’
Hamid brandishes his pincers at the heart of the joyous racket of the Sunday market of Beni Yakhlef, a rural town about 30 kilometres (20 miles) from the seaside metropolis of Casablanca.
At least 41 people died in wave of weekend fires, the second such tragedy in months
Executive order 'plainly discriminates based on nationality', Hawaii judge Derrick Watson rules
One of the fishermen was shot and has been admitted to hospital
The final vote on the legislation is to be made in the upper house Senate after the lower house National Assembly overwhelmingly approved it last week.
On Monday, Iraqi government forces captured oil-rich Kirkuk from Peshmerga forces
Anti-terror airstrike conducted in northern Iraq's Zap region, military says
Bipartisan agreement faces up-hill battle to secure enough support in Congress
New report says online sales will more than double in a decade, with Amazon leading the way
Turkish diplomatic official says Presidency of Religious Affairs' relief activities reached thousands of Nigerians in 2017
Second reshuffle in 12 months sees currency fall 0.5 pct against US dollar
Iran has three main crossings with northern Iraq’s Kurdish region
40 Somalis injured in Saturday's truck bomb attack in Mogadishu were airlifted to Turkey for medical treatment on Monday
Afghan-born US citizen faces separate charges in shootout with police, attempted bombing of military charity race
Trump's threat to ditch the landmark 2015 agreement, which saw Tehran dramatically scale back its nuclear ambitions in return for an end to punishing sanctions, has sparked a chorus of foreign support for the pact.