Chavez Unveils 3D Portrait of Hero Bolivar
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has unveiled a digitized 3-D image of Simon Bolivar based on remains exhumed two years ago to determine whether the South American independence hero had been murdered.
"Hurray for Bolivar! This is his face," Chavez said in presenting the portrait of over a meter (3.3 feet) high in a ceremony at the presidential palace marking Bolivar's 229th anniversary on Tuesday.
With his dark hair, thick sideburns, pale skin and stone-faced expression, the image reconstituted with computer software is similar to painted portraits during the 19th century hero's time (1783-1830).
Anthropologist Lourdes Perez explained that an axial tomography of Bolivar's skull determined "the true face of the liberator, from a scientific point of view."
Chavez has long hero-worshipped Bolivar, going so far as to rename the country the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. His own revolutionary rhetoric is inspired by Bolivar's campaign to throw off the yoke of Spanish colonizers.
In July 2010, Chavez ordered Bolivar's remains exhumed to certify that they were his and to determine the cause of his death in 1830 in the Colombian city of Santa Marta.
Chavez believes Bolivar was poisoned, and did not die of tuberculosis as history holds.
A government-sponsored scientific study has determined that the remains are authentic, and Chavez indicated that an investigation underway has found that there was "no trace of tuberculosis" in Bolivar's remains.
The remains have been held in a transparent urn since December 2011, with plans to allow public viewing inside a mahogany coffin adorned with Venezuelan pearls, diamonds and gold.
The coffin will be placed in a new mausoleum that Chavez presented to the public, with an inauguration planned for the coming days.