Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez shared their amazement and joy upon the triumphal return to power of the late Venezuelan leader after a brief coup in 2002, an exchange vividly captured in a transcript released Friday.
"You have to make a movie about it," a delighted Castro told Chavez in a lengthy telephone conversation shortly after the Venezuelan president was welcomed back to presidential palace in Caracas by cheering masses.
"What impressive images, the faces of the people, the happiness -- something never seen before, Chavez! It's something to make paintings about," he said.
Cuba published a transcript of the conversation in an eight-page pamphlet, offering a rare and dramatic glimpse of the two friends at a key moment in their history as the closest of allies.
Calling the coup leaders "fascists" and "sons of bitches," Castro suggested that Chavez investigate what they "had in mind," and what they were going to do with him.
"Yes, I've already ordered that that be investigated," Chavez responded, promising "I'll do everything possible to not give you another scare or reason to be sad."
Chavez, who died of cancer March 5, 2013, was knocked from power on April 11, 2002 in a military coup set in motion by gunfire during a massive opposition march on the Miraflores palace that left 20 people dead.
Chavez was seized and flown under military escort to La Orchila, a presidential retreat on an island off Venezuela's northern Caribbean coast.
But within 72 hours, an interim government led by businessman Pedro Carmona had collapsed, the military reversed course and Chavez was flown back to Caracas in a head-spinning change of fortunes.
"What a day, Fidel!" Chavez said. "I'm just ... It's something incredible, incredible! I'm still processing things."
Chavez detailed the bitterness and confusion he felt after the fall, worrying that "a civil war could break out," and then his elation on learning the coup had failed.
"Listen, it's like a divine hand is leading you," said Castro.
Chavez answered: "Well, the people, chico. God and the people."
Castro, who stepped down as president for health reasons in 2006 and is now 87, paid tribute to Chavez in an introduction to the pamphlet but made no mention of the crisis in Venezuela a year after his death.