Sabaneta: Hugo Chavez’s hometown wants his body

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez delivers a speech upon landing at the airport in Tachira, Venezuela, on October 20, 2011.  Credit:LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez delivers a speech upon landing at the airport in Tachira, Venezuela, on October 20, 2011.
Credit:LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images

“Hot spiders for old women with no teeth! Tasty spiders, for good-looking girls.” Fifty years later, the small couplets sang by Hugo Chavez in Sabaneta are only preserved in the memory of his fellow companions. Instead, the work of the “eternal commander” is a pride exhibited by most of his hometown (81 percent voted for him in last October’s presidential elections).

Times have changed. Nobody sells papaya sweets as tasty as those of grandmother Rosa Inés. In Simón Bolívar Square in Sabaneta there is now coffee, phone calls and trinket stalls. Only Jesus Castaño maintains the traditional “guarapo” (sweet drink) made from sugar cane. One glass costs $1.20. “It’s gives me enough to live,” he smiles.

From his privileged vantage point, Castaño witnessed two weeks of grief and mourning in Sabaneta when the “unexpected” news on March 5 was made known. One month later, he has very clear ideas: “Chavez has to come back, this is his land.”

The rumor comes from Castaño and extends throughout the town. Unanimity is total. “When I die I want you to take me there, to the town that is Sabaneta in Barinas state. And I’ll settle for something very simple, like grandma Rosa Inés,” reads a passage from “Cuentos del Arañero” (Tales of the Warbler), a compilation of stories about Chávez’s life.

The testament of death is known and defended by the people. At his childhood home, between the trees “Revolution” and “Rebellion” planted by Chávez and Bolivian President Evo Morales on a previous visit, there remains a giant mango tree, elected by the commander to shade his grave. “The vast majority wants him to be buried here. He requested it,” said Juan Chacon, cultural director of the municipality that regents Anibal Chávez, one of Chavez’s brothers. “But we understand that the decision is not ours, he belongs to Venezuela and Latin America. The decision that will be taken will be respected,” he added.

Chacon’s diplomacy seems necessary given the twists and turns of interim president Nicolás Maduro with the body of their leader. Maduro first announced to the world that he would be embalmed like Lenin and Mao, and then backtracked due to the state of decomposition of the body. The leaders of the PSUV (Chavez’s political party) proposed to hold a referendum to change the constitution so that the body could be taken to the Mausoleum of Simón Bolívar. A stalled initiative. For now, Chavez’s remains lie in a refrigerated coffin in Cuartel de la Montaña Harrison in his beloved 23 de Enero neighborhood in Caracas, where every day it’s visited by a thousand supporters.

“Bring el Comandante to Sabaneta,” cries Gilberto Castillo, a music CD seller standing a few meters from Simón Bolívar Square. “Our belief is that he will be buried here, he has to rest here,” he says as he shows this reporter the last hit of the revolutionary music. He turns on the player and the speakers blast out: “Commander Chávez died, the Robin Hood of the poor, the homeless, the Indians … No vices or shenanigans … The King of the XXI Century left. Revolution and loyalty, socialism forever.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Local

Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.