BY DIEGO ORE
(Reuters) - Supporters of Venezuela's late socialist leader Hugo Chavez on Monday unveiled yet another novel way of keeping his memory alive - a font for typing in "El Comandante's" handwriting style.
The distinctive 'ChavezPro' font was launched by a group of young "anti-imperialists" to coincide with nationwide commemorations of the 60th anniversary of his birth.
Chavez's bold scrawl became famous to Venezuelans as he used to spend hours on national TV writing and drawing on boards and papers to explain policies, develop ideas and sign deals.
His signature, in red for socialist, adorns T-shirts, baseball caps and the walls of buildings around the nation.
The new font can be downloaded for free from the "Creative Trench" group's web site (www.trincheracreativa.com).
They used letters written by Chavez while he was in jail for a failed 1992 coup attempt to digitalize his handwriting.
"The best present!" enthused one 'Chavista' via Twitter. "The typography of the giant!"
Government opponents roll their eyes at the deification of Chavez, and his ubiquitous presence in public life. They see it as a cover for the failings of his successor Nicolas Maduro who was elected after Chavez died of cancer last year.
MADURO: BIRD BRINGS CHAVEZ MESSAGE
Images of Chavez's eyes, face and clenched fist are stenciled and reproduced all overVenezuela. Recordings of his voice also thunder out at government rallies, singing the national anthem or exhorting the people: "You are all Chavez!"
Fireworks at midnight marked the beginning of Monday's commemorations being led by Maduro with some foreign leaders in tow prior to a summit of South American bloc Mercosur.
Later, Maduro led a ceremony at Chavez's rural hometown of Sabaneta in the Venezuelan "llanos" or plains where he was born.
Maduro, who was widely mocked by foes last year for claiming to have seen Chavez's spirit in a bird, said he had received another apparition on Monday.
"A little bird approached me again," he told relatives of Chavez and officials at the event, imitating a bird whistle. "The little bird said 'El Comandante' was happy, full of the love and loyalty of his people. He must be proud, happy."
Maduro and others sang happy birthday to the deceased Chavez around a large cake. Some supporters wiped away tears.
At the weekend, Venezuela's ruling Socialist Party held a first congress without Chavez, naming him their "eternal leader" while also voting Maduro as new party president.