Chavez 59 birthday
A woman touches a picture of the late Hugo Chávez in a chapel dedicated to him. Reuters

The late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez would have been 59 on Sunday, July 28. But while he might not be around to blow the candles, his beloved country did still celebrate his birthday, the first since his death in office in March.

The main present his loyal successors gave the late president is the creation of the Hugo Chávez Institute for Advanced Studies, which will offer courses in his militant socialist philosophy.

“The institute will deepen the study and share the ideas and values espoused by our Bolivarian leader,” said his successor, President Nicolas Maduro, in a speech televised to the nation.

The signature of the agreement to create the institute -- there is no building or faculty yet -- was done in Sabaneta, where Chávez was born in 1954. Several members of his family were present, including his father Hugo de los Reyes Chávez, who governed the state of Barinas, where Sabaneta is located, between 1998 and 2008, and his older brother, Adán Chávez, current governor of Barinas and designated director of the future institute.

It is still unclear what the exact tasks of the institute would be. Maduro said it would take charge of all celebrations and homages given to the late comandante. “There cannot be anarchy like it has been until now. So, if Sabaneta wants to name an avenue after the comandante, for instance, the mayor would have to consult the commission so there is only one avenue and not 20,” he said. “We have to take care of his image.”

The institute is a way for the Venezuelan left to sharpen and define its ideology, since Chávez did not leave a treatise on his beliefs, unlike the North Korean Juche, the political thesis formed by Kim Il Sungm or Moammar Gadhafi’s Green Book. The institute now faces the colossal task of crafting a coherent theory out of many hours of speeches, which often contradicted each other, delivered during 14 years of Chavismo.