Echoes / Regina Coyula

My friend Ana experienced Chavez’s death like that of a family member — tearfully and without music. Whe nshe speaks of him, her voice breaks. She does not know how to explain the reason for such devotion, but she relied on the Venezuelan broadcaster Telesur for all the details. Since the subject was very emotional for her, it was not until two days ago that I asked what she thought about the recent Venezuelan elections. Her response came as a surprise.

“I would not have voted for either of them. Capriles is from the extreme right, but I don’t know what Chavez saw in Maduro. Someone must have suggested that he read his speeches because he knows how to talk. What he does not know how to do is shut up.”

I heard something similar, though less concise and forthright, from my neighbor Tomás, who said to a visitor with sadness, “Maduro works hard, but he does not have Chavez’s charisma.”

An observation by my mother, who at ninety-six is as lucid as ever, reiterates one often heard during the Venezuelan presidential campaign. “The worst thing he could do is to try to imitate [Chavez],” she noted.

I have also heard cynical comments from people who peevishly detest Maduro, but who detest even more the power outages from which we Cubans have been spared, at least for the next three years.

3 May 2013