HAVANA TIMES — I need to confess something. All this time I’ve been a victim of prejudice against the Bolivarian government of Venezuela and its desire to build a political, economic and social system that they call 21st century socialism.
The figure of President Hugo Chavez has always aroused suspicion in me. Perhaps this was due to my being saturated with political speeches here, where a new society and the “new person” have been the leitmotif. Or maybe this was because of our national experience, where promises faded into disappointment.
Then too, there was that image I always had of him, where he seemed like a clone of Fidel. None of that ever motivated me to learn about the Venezuelan revolutionary movement in detail.
These days, following his physical disappearance, I’ve been following each news story and television broadcast about this subject. I can now tell you — after four days of listening and watching — I’ve come to know him and his social-political objective for his nation and for Latin America and the Caribbean.
I couldn’t help but sometimes feeling ashamed with myself for having judged this dignitary a priori.
I was moved by the documentary showing me his life and his roots. I’ve learned from the history of Venezuela and from these 14 years of his rule.
I’ve seen a people moved and grateful for having had a leader who taught them the path to sovereignty. I’ve seen demonstrations of grief from all corners of the world, and I witnessed a touching farewell ceremony.
I was surprised by the spontaneous tears; it was as though a contagion were traveling the world, evidenced by the attendance at the service of so many leaders as well as personalities from the arts, science, politics, and international religion.
The words of Vice President Nicolas Maduro, the honor guard of 33 heads of state, the crying of a family, and the cry of a people have shown me a revolutionary, a politician, a Christian, a good man.
The Americas is bidding farewell to one of its noblest sons…someone who dreamed of a world without superpowers, without wars; without social, political, racial, religious or gender exclusion.
He was someone I assessed wrongly. Now though, I’ve gotten to know him – and like the old saying goes: better late than never.