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

Thousands protest in New York over Eric Garner…

The Reverend Al Sharpton led thousands of chanting but peaceful activists in a march across Staten Island on Saturday to protest the death of Eric Garner.

International

Egypt calls for Gaza ceasefire as fighting rages

Egypt called on Israel and the Palestinians on Saturday to halt fire and resume peace talks, but violence continued unabated.

National

SpaceX rocket terminated in Texas test flight

A Space Exploration Technologies’ Falcon 9 rocket suffered an anomaly shortly after launch on a test flight, triggering its automatic termination system.

Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

Music

Arcade Fire concert review, Massachusetts, Aug. 19

Arcade Fire take the opposite approach of "Shut up and play the hits," and it works in their favor on the "Reflektor" tour.

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

NFL

3 things we learned about the Giants in…

The Giants claimed the Snoopy trophy in a battle of MetLife Stadium tenants Friday night. But more importantly, the offense finally showed some life in…

NFL

3 things we learned about the Jets in…

The Jets lost the Snoopy Bowl, 35-24, to the Giants, losing the trophy and local bragging rights.

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

Wellbeing

Asics is giving away free gear around NYC…

Asics wants to see you on the court - and in the stands for the U.S. Open, which begins Monday - by giving away free…

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…