L’automne des patriarches

MADRID – « Comme il est difficile de mourir ! » aurait déclaré Francisco Franco sur son lit de mort. La mort est semble-t-il toujours particulièrement difficile à gérer pour les autocrates, même lorsqu’ils meurent de causes naturelles.

L’agonie d’un dictateur est toujours une forme de dramaturgie, avec ses masses extatiques, les futurs successeurs luttant pour leur survie politique, et dans les coulisses, la coterie du dictateur rallongeant la vie de leur patriarche pour assurer dans l’interlude la protection de leurs privilèges. Le gendre de Franco, qui était aussi le médecin de la famille, avait plus d’un mois durant maintenu le despote artificiellement en vie.

Il est difficile de dire depuis combien de temps le vénézuélien Hugo Chavez était mort avant que son décès ne soit officiellement annoncé. Gagnant du temps pour assurer leur propre avenir politique, les responsables vénézuéliens ont soigneusement mis en scène la maladie, puis la mort de Chavez, suggérant même à la fin, alors qu’il était soumis à des traitements complexes et insoutenables contre le cancer, qu’il « marchait toujours et faisait de l’exercice. » Ce vide d’information n’est pas sans rappeler le secret qui avait entouré les disparitions de Staline et de Mao, ou la coutume ottomane de garder secrète la mort du sultan pendant des semaines jusqu’à ce que la succession soit effectivement réglée.

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