Dating Chávez

“Venezuela? Don’t worry brother, this one’s on me!”

It’s amazing how much clout you get when you’re a Venezuelan in Nicaragua. My country’s apparently limitless benevolence for the Nicaraguan people has gotten me plenty of smiles, coffees and beers for free.

Such aid comes largely in the form of bold amounts of cash and oil that are largely unaccounted for at both ends and that spread through Nicaragua in rather discretionary ways. I presume some sort of opposition exists, but out in the countryside I haven’t met a single person that doesn’t support the Sandinista movement. Since all Venezuelan goodies seem to be delivered directly to (Nicaraguan president and life-long revolutionary) Daniel Ortega’s living room, my passport can open many doors here.

One of those doors belonged to Marvin, a coffee grower in the beautiful area of Miraflor, in northern Nicaragua. Guests of his are greeted by a large 2015 calendar with a dramatic image of no other than Hugo Chávez, framed by many of his self-proclaimed-famous quotes.

at least I could look at this instead of Chávez on the wall.

at least I could look at this instead of Chávez on the wall.

It’s important to note that Chavez died more that two years ago, forcing him to unwillingly stop his duties as permapresident of Venezuela. The fact that calendars with his figure are being produced in a foreign country so long after his passing speaks highly of his influence and reach.

Thanks to my almighty visa, I got a rare chance to discuss seriously and openly with people that support Chávez without risking death every time I said I objected him. I went through nights and beers discussing politics with people that actually fought in the Nicaraguan revolution. Having spent years hiding and fighting in the open forest, sleeping under the rain and risking their lives with every step gives these guys a completely different perspective than the one I find when I talk to Venezuelan chavistas whose only reference of fighting for an ideal is mindlessly repeating the words of El Comandante Eterno to get their share of the cake.

Some of these Nicaraguans support the current administration, some don’t. But none of them believe in Daniel or any other president as a Messiah. They understand the power and importance of taking matters in your own hands and being responsible about it. Although I’ll never support war for any ideal, I deeply respect these people’s courage for standing for what they believe in the way they did.

Growing up in Venezuela gives you a very particular outlook on life. Most things there don’t work, and when they do they do so in ways that defy any logic and make absurdity the norm. You only become suspicious when things actually make sense.

Dating deserves its own chapter in dysfunctional social dynamics. Tropical relationship will make you question sanity at short and regular intervals. Where do you think telenovelas come from? Hairdressers fighting ninja style are just a reflection of the way close human interactions are handled there.

Out of all the deranged relationships I had growing up, one deserves particular attention. It was filled with the expected whatthefuckness, but she was also bipolar to the bone and a master of responsibility disguise. The drama volcano would erupt at any given moment, taking no hostages and then blaming me for the disaster.

It took me years to leave all that behind. Just when I thought I was clear of all debris, I started dating in English. After a rather long streak of romantic debacles I realized that my ex wasn’t the only one to blame. Although I still think she’s batshit crazy, I now see how much of what happened was also my fault. In the US, I turned out to be the drama queen.


There is power in perspective. Seeing a poster of Chávez felt like these guys were praising my crazy ex without knowing the truth about her, but these meetings also provided me with many laughs, generous gifts that I received with gratitude and a different outlook on my county’s future, present and past. By the same token, I’m sure Marvin is now more cautious about his praise for El Comandante Presidente (although he probably won’t take that calendar down).

IMG_5826

even horses love Sandino here.

This power doesn’t work by itself, though. When I find myself arguing to make a point no matter what, I realize I’ve already lost. Open-minded dialogue has proven to be the most effective way to make sustainable improvements happen, even if it means acknowledging that I’ve been wrong all along.

A former teacher said, on the topic of composing, that “you can only suck less”. I think this applies to everything in life. No matter what we believe, we’re always a little bit wrong and that’s probably a good thing to remember.

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