The recent passing of Hugo Chávez, president of Venezuela from 1999 till 2013, produced a juncture in the nation's imaginary that immediately sparked numerous and diverse commemorative practices. This article explores this sudden demand for a coherent and enduring memory of the late president by analysing different official postures and commemorative strategies. These are initially placed in the context of key historiographical tropes of the Bolivarian Revolution, and then analysed in light of such tropes. Specifically, the discussion identifies a thirst for ‘documents’, used in the broad sense proposed by Jacques Le Goff, which converged on the presidential body, the social body and public space as potential stimuli for memory. In this context, the initial possibilities of embalming Chávez's body, free tattoos of his signature and its use to decorate government buildings, appeal to the archive as a source of authority and as the commencement of history, as Jacques Derrida has it, while extrapolating the president's signature as a mobile and reproducible image of power to seek the eternal presence of the ‘líder eterno’ (eternal leader) as an anchor for political unity.