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Simón BolívarTravels and Transformations of a Cultural Icon$
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Maureen G. Shanahan and Ana María Reyes

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813062624

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813062624.001.0001

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When the Boat Comes In

When the Boat Comes In

Myth, Reification, and the Changing Face of Simón Bolívar in Venezuelan Politics and Culture

Chapter:
(p.215) 12 When the Boat Comes In
Source:
Simón Bolívar
Author(s):

Nicholas Roberts

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813062624.003.0013

Eugenio Montejo’s poem “Nostalgia de Bolívar” (1976) depicts Simón Bolívar as the (symbolic) essence of the Venezuelan land and people. But both are also emptied of this essence, as, within the poem, Bolívar departs to sea on a boat. “Bolívar” becomes a “floating signifier,” open to all and not bound to any one meaning. Its status as that which holds together all Venezuelans depends on this. In present-day Venezuela, however, the name “Bolívar” is irrevocably tied to those of “Chávez” and his Revolución Bolívariana. As a result, politically and socially, Bolívar has been closed off from effective use by others, amid an increasing call to “de-Bolívarize” the country and its political discourse, whilst, culturally, the revered figure of Montejo’s poem has been replaced by one satirized in stand-up routines. Will Bolívar set sail once more? Or will his current incarnation prove the undoing of the multivalent mythic Bolívar in Venezuela?

Keywords:   Venezuela, Simón Bolívar, Eugenio Montejo, Hugo Chávez, Satire, Poetry, Politics, signifier

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