Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 10th 2013 Contents A45
Friday, May 10, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
From Page 44
"In every Chavista family you can
always find a member of the oppo-
sition, and that relationship leads to
conflict," said Mirla Perez, a professor
of social work who studies family
relations at the Central University
of Venezuela. "It s a permanent ten-
sion that only gets relieved by not
Many families are splitting along
On one side: parents who vividly
remember Venezuela s pre-Chavez
struggles with inflation, currency
devaluation, crime and political
instability. While those problems
have remained, and may have even
worsened during Chavez s reign, his
supporters point to the social pro-
grammes Chavez started and take
pride in the nationalistic rhetoric
On the other side of the familial
divide: better-educated, more
upwardly mobile adult children who
spent their formative years exposed
to Chavez s failings.
Jose Pastano s 43-year-old son
Edwin, for example, is a transporta-
tion safety consultant, while his other
son, Mauri, 47, works in a govern-
ment medical lab.
"What is the socialism they are
talking about?" Mauri cried out on
a recent night after dinner. "They
call themselves socialists, but they
don t go up into the barrios to help
Edwin joined in on the attack. The
government does nothing about the
high crime, buckling roads and piles
of trash choking the drains, he
All the while, Jose Pastano s right
eye twitched furiously as he tried to
The 71-year-old father suddenly
began breathing heavily, then
slumped back in his chair and
grabbed his chest, trembling.
"I need to calm down," Pastano
said as his wife helped him to his
bedroom. The debate was over, at
least for that night.
Variations of that scene have
played out even among many of
Venezuela s best-known families.
Information Minister Ernesto Vil-
legas frequently goes after govern-
ment critics as the head of the state s
media operation, while his brother
Vladimir is a well-known journalist
and prominent government critic.
Vladimir Villegas announced yes-
terday that he would be taking over
as director of Globovision, the coun-
try s last opposition television chan-
"It s a question of navigating in
the middle of a country that s very
polarised and divided, a really com-
plicated situation of political ani-
mosity," he said, stressing that he
has always maintained good relations
with his brother.
In another high-profile case, one
of the most important youth organ-
isers for opposition presidential can-
didate Henrique Capriles is the
daughter of former state governor
Didalco Bolivar, who heads a party
in the government s coalition.
"I love my father but I share
Capriles vision of the country," said
Injecting heat into the equation
is the closeness many felt for the
folksy, charismatic Chavez, who
became a virtual member of many
families. Since his death, government
officials have been even proclaiming
that Venezuelans remain all of
Chavez s children.
"The relationship that ordinary
Venezuelans had with the president
wasn t a pragmatic relationship, a
relationship of power," Perez said.
"It s a family relationship."
Perez said she herself has seen her
family divided along political lines.
"I had a tremendous argument
with my mother over the Easter hol-
idays," Perez said. "She compared
the feelings that she had after the
death of Chavez with the feelings
she had after my brother s death."
Angelica Ramirez, a 22-year-old
university student from the eastern
Venezuelan state of Bolivar, said she s
stopped talking to her Chavista
cousin and avoided visiting her
grandparents the day after last
month s vote for fear that political
arguments would break out.
Her relatives declined interview
In such an environment, 68-year-
old Ines Pastano is indeed a rarity:
a middle-of-the-road political
She explained that her husband
suffers from hypertension and heart
palpitations and often can t stand
the stress of the family s political
Then, she trudged to the centre
of the living room, and moved to
"The Chavistas are over here," she
She motioned across the room.
"And the opposition supporters are
Finally, she moved back to the
centre, planting herself squarely
between the two halves.
"And I m here, right in the mid-
Families splitting along generation lines
Mauri Pastano, 47, a supporter of Venezuela's opposition, smiles as he
poses for a photo in his home in Caracas, Venezuela. AP PHOTO
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