Chavez Tattoos Express Love for Socialism and Possible Cult of Personality

Ennio Cardozo said that there was a short time between Chavez's death and the special election to replace him so the best thing that the largely unknown Maduro could do, is to portray himself as the "custodian," of Chavez's legacy.

"Chavismo needs to keep the president's image alive because he was the one who built an emotional connection with the electorate, not Maduro,"Cardozo said. "This is essentially an election between Chavez and (opposition candidate) Henrique Capriles."

Maduro currently leads Capriles by 10 points or more in most polls, even though in his brief time as the acting President of Venezuela, the country has faced serious food shortages, power blackouts, and high inflation rates.

But Cardozo believes that such heavy reliance on a supreme leader could eventually backfire for Maduro. He says that, even if they win the upcoming election, Venezuela's socialist leaders will have to do more than promote reverence for Chavez if they want to hold on to power.

"If the public policies that they pursue do not meet the demands of society there could be [severing of ties] between Chavista voters and their leaders," Cardozo said.

Still, the young people getting Chavez tattoos at the ministry of communication said it would take much more than some economic problems for them to lose their faith in Chavez and his socialist revolution.

"He's the first president who comes from the people, and who we identified with," said Cerecita Olavarrieta, one of the organizers of this week's free tattoo sessions.

Olavarrieta said that she came from a poor neighborhood in Caracas, where her family had experienced hunger and repression under previous governments. She said that she is forever committed to Chavez and his revolution, and added that there was nothing extreme about getting Chavez tattoos.

"Chavez was love and he gave his life for us," Olavarrieta said. "What we are doing here is not exaggerated, it is a vindication of our struggle."

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