A newly published biography of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, who had served as vice-president under the controversial President Hugo Chavez, reveals insights into Maduro’s relationship with a famed Indian guru. According to biographer Roger Santo Santodomingo, the author of ‘De Verde a Maduro’, a series of interviews with Maduro and his circle revealed that Maduro was “nurtured within a great spirituality.” Recalling the interviews, Santodomingo said “I remember that his office was full of charms and even had red braids" provided by his guru.
 
The biography illustrates the relationship Maduro has had with Sathya Sai Baba, an Indian spiritual leader who, according to media reports, has a worldwide following. Santodomingo said in an interview with Spain’s ABC newspaper  "He and his wife, Cilia Flores, were loyal followers of the guru." The charms and amulets in Maduro’s office come from Baba, a person who only accepts "blind faith."
 
This is not the first time that the alleged spirituality of the occupant of Venezuela’s presidency has arrested the public’s attention. Last week, Maduro said that he sometimes sleeps at the tomb of Hugo Chavez “to be inspired.” Santodomingo describes Maduro as a “fetichist” who ascribes “magical power” to his surroundings. "For him, being close to the corpse has a power of symbolism and communications," says Santodomingo.
 
However, the reporter sought to label Maduro’s “spirituality” as "artificial" "spirituality, while giving assurances that the sham religion has mere political aims. Santodomingo asserted that Maduro is seeking to change the “Bolivarian Revolution” into a political cult that glorifies Hugo Chavez. The author said that certain broad errors Maduro has made in his speeches, such as identifying Madrid as the capital of France,  are actually intentional. “Maduro seeks to be seen as a victim and that people ridicule  him," said Santodomingo
 
Santodomingo also described Maduro as “violent” and even “more impulsive” than his idol, Hugo Chavez. Nonetheless, said the author, Maduro is “a guy with whom you can chat peacefully and share a drink.”
 
According to Santodomingo, Maduro’s violent temperament became evident in his teenage years. While in high school in Caracas, Maduro belonged to several radical Leftist groups such as “Rupture” movement. A fellow member of the group was Douglas Ignacio Bravo Mora, a leftist who participated in armed revolts against the government in 1992. ‘Rupture’ was not merely a student group but one that carried out violent protests and graffiti campaigns. Maduro was a “poor student because of his political activities,” affirmed Santodomingo.
 
Thanks to his rebellious years, Venezuela’s Socialist League gave him a grant to take a year-long course of studies in Cuba. Maduro was 25 years old when, in 1986 and 1987, he was a member of a communist movement.  Leaving Havana behind, Maduro returned to Venezuela where he continued his violent political activities. He joined several attempts in 1992 to overthrow the government of the democratically elected Carlos Andrés Pérez, an ally of the United States. Said Santodomingo, “He favored killing President Pérez,” said Santodomingo. Maduro later was dubbed Chavez’s right-hand-man upon the latter’s election in 1998. 
 
Colombian Origins
 
Maduro has been silent about the possibility that he was born in Colombia, thus jeapordizing his legitimacy for the presidency under Venezuela’s constitution. Recently, Abelardo Díaz – an opposition leader – proved that Maduro’s late mother Teresa de Jesús Moros was born in Colombia. "In all the interviews Maduro avoided talking about his mother" Santodomingo told ABC. However, he says that the president admired his father Nicolas Maduro Garcia, a politician who belonged to a Leftist party in Venezuela. 
 
"I have never seen pictures of Maduro with his mother, but I have seen pictures of him with his father attending political meetings," said Santodomingo. Nonetheless, Maduro had a good relationship with his mother, says Santodomingo.  The journalist says he did not source Maduro’s birth records while researching the biography because at the time the president’s national origin was not in doubt. What is certain, according to Santodomingo, was that Madruo sought asylum in Cúcuta, his mother’s birthplace in Colombia, during the April 2002 coup d’etat that sought to bring down Chavez. “He first fled to the Venezuelan state of Zulia, where he sought asylum at the home of the erstwhile Chavez supporter Father José Palmar, who is now an opponent. Later, he was in Cúcuta, Colombia, until the Chavez government was reconfirmed,” said Santodomingo.
 
Father Palmar has since renounced his association with Chavez and Maduro, having publicly begged for forgiveness. His attorney, Albert Hernández Molero was shot to death in January 2013, raising speculation that the hit was ordered by Maduro.

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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