The night of his acceptance speech, I decided in all my generosity, to give the man a chance, a chance to prove himself, the chance to do some good, the chance to give this weary and hurt nation some healing, show them some good deeds, and bring our beautiful country to better times. And to tell the truth, his lack of pomposity, his down to earth attitude, his informality was appealing. He was funny in his own way, giving hesitant but heartwarming steps toward making the country what it should be, showing the forgotten that better times were coming and the privileged new ways to be more so.
Europe happened summer of 2000. My sister went backpacking for two months. I was seventeen and about to graduate. My life was magic. Three days ago someone asked me which was the happiest day of my life and I could say without a doubt that it was one day that summer of 2000 when I found out I had been accepted to go to law school. My life was perfect I was graduating, I had an amazing social life, my dad was making a lot of money and being very generous with it, I was taking short trips to Margarita Island with my cousins and learning how to drive the cute stick shift car my dad gave me for graduation. I had the life every teenager dreams off.
I was also going to the most prestigious law school in the country and I couldn’t wait to be a college student. I had fallen in love with my school one day I was visiting college campuses my junior year. Schools back home aren’t like the schools here; there is no ivy, no ancient buildings with red brick and cobblestone streets, no gigantic libraries and nothing that would make them beautiful enough to be a tourist spot. They are efficient and utilitarian, they look like schools, organized and simple, no ruffles no frilliness, just tons and tons of cements and windows and green. But my school’s campus appealed to me. Its simplicity spoke of hard work and no nonsense but the parks and gardens and grassy areas invited us to sit down and play around, to juggle and listen to music while you unloaded for a bit the heavy books. College life spoke to me like nothing else aside from writing had before. I felt like I belonged. My feet walked that campus as if remembering steps previously taken. College was my first love.
By the time my first year of college was over, however, I was painfully disappointed. What is already a hard career was made so much harder by Chavez arbitrary changing of the constitution, by his rewriting of laws and his childish attempts at law making. It was heartbreaking knowledge that my teachers were learning along with us. Not quite knowing what to teach when to stop in case the new referendum brought new surprises, the classes just a room for heated debate hour after hour between Chavez sympathizers and the opposition. Endless classes spent arguing about his accomplishments and what he had done for the misfortunate and how the oligarchy (he loves that word) was just bitter because they had to learn how to share.
Everything could have been easier if Chavez had no followers. I probably would be back home right now, a lawyer, without employment and speaking only Spanish. The sad fact is Chavez had followers, not only followers, but passionate followers, people that believed he was a saint, short of a messenger of God come to deliver us.
There is nothing scarier than fanaticism, and that is what they were, fanatics. Before the country had time to say "Saint Hugo?" Its people were divided.