Skip to main content

Skeleton of Venezuelan revolutionary Bolivar exhumed

By Gustavo Valdes, CNN
South American revolutionary leader Simon Bolivar (1783 - 1830), is shown in an engraving by W. Hall.
South American revolutionary leader Simon Bolivar (1783 - 1830), is shown in an engraving by W. Hall.
  • Venezuelan state television broadcast images of Simon Bolivar's exhumed skeleton
  • President Hugo Chavez suspects the former military leader was murdered
  • Chavez has described Bolivar, who died in 1830, as "the father of the revolution"
  • Bolivar is credited with liberating several Latin American nations

(CNN) -- Venezuelan state television has showed the skeletal remains of one of Hugo Chavez's heroes as the country's president called for an investigation into his death.

Most historical accounts say tuberculosis killed Simon Bolivar, who died in 1830 at the age of 46. But Chavez ordered investigators to exhume the body of the former military leader and determine whether he was murdered.

"Bolivar is alive. Let us not see him as a dead man and let us not see him as a skeleton. He is like lightning, like a sacred fire," Chavez said.

With the national anthem playing in the background, a group of scientists wearing white coats rolled up a black cloth, revealing a skeleton on the table below.

The broadcast then faded to black, showing Chavez singing along to the national anthem.

A DNA test will be performed on the remains as well as the clothing items found inside the tomb, Chavez said.

He said on his Twitter page that he cried when he first saw Bolivar's remains Thursday.

Chavez has credited Bolivar with inspiring him as "the father of the revolution."

In 1819, Bolivar founded Gran Colombia, a federation of what is now Venezuela, Colombia, Panama and Ecuador. He led the armies that liberated Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru and Venezuela from the Spanish crown and is credited with spreading democratic principles in Latin America.