…and you may recognize the name:
And now, the story from Aporrea:
“Hugo Chávez”…that’s what former councillor Mariano Porras decided to name a sector of the Unir II neighborhood, located in Engativá, in the northwest of the capital of Colombia.
Its streets aren’t paved, but the the buildings are just a few years old, and are practically new.
This sector is populated by Bogotans who are sympathizers of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, while their neighbors live in a sector popularly known as “Jorge Eliécer Gaitán”.
The Colombian weekly newspaper, Semana.com, visited the community, home to 546 families, which has plaques on the doors reading “Sector Hugo Chávez”, along with the block and building numbers.
Olga Lucía Melo, director of the Unir II homeowners’ association, told Semana.com that “the political ideals of Chávez and his Bolivarian thought” inspired the naming of the sector, which is frequently visited by the Bolivarian Foundation of Bogotá, a group of persons who, according to Olga, “fight for the Bolivarian ideals and contribute to the sector for its roads, infrastructure and aqueduct.”
Chávez is a political example for his “work for the poor”, Olga Lucía Melo added, lamenting the current state of health of the Venezuelan head of state. “We have a prayer group for him. We know that the Bolivarian Foundation has has had meetings with the Colombian ambassador to Venezuela, and the Venezuelan ambassador to Colombia, to find out how we can be in solidarity in the face of the president’s state of health, and to make ourselves known in Venezuela,” she said.
Last December, several locals celebrated a eucharist for the health of the president. They hung Venezuelan flags and placards alluding to the president. “We held a Mass for the health of Hugo Chávez Frías. A delegate from the Venezuelan embassy was there. We are suffering his illness right along with him,” confessed Roberto Muñoz, a representative of the Unir II homeowners’ association.
The local residents decided to call the district “Hugo Chávez”, because his struggles are similar to theirs.
“We see the cause of Hugo Chávez as our own. We won this neighborhood through a fight against the oligarchies…We’ve seen his struggles in his country against the big monopolies. For that reason, we’re holding a vigil here,” Roberto Muñoz told Semana.com.
“What I like best about Chávez is his fight against the oligarchy. Nationalizing the resources is the best thing there could be, and I’d like to see some Colombian leader do the same in our country,” he added.
He added that the sector “has consolidated itself as a base of popular struggle, and no entity of the State or the District has collaborated with us. We started out as homeowners’ associations, pooled our resources, and bought the parcel of land with the help of Dr. Mariano Porras, the leader of the project. He told us we should start to build so they couldn’t take the lot away from us,” Muñoz said.
There are many stories of life in this area inspired by Chávez. One of them is that of Alirio Contreras, born in Cúcuta, who has dual Colombian-Venezuelan nationality and whose relatives live in Venezuela. More than seven years ago he bought his parcel of land in “Hugo Chávez” and today he’s just a few weeks away from completing his house.
“In December, my family came from Caracas. It’s really cool to live in a place called ‘Hugo Chávez’ because we like to support the president. He helps the people who need it. He gave my sister a house in San Cristóbal,” said Alirio, with fondness.
“I met Chávez at a demonstration. I didn’t shake his hand, but I saw him,” he recalled.
Another resident of the sector who calls himself “a Chávista to the death”, is Pedro Nel Hernández, who talks of having visited the island of Margarita. “I loved it. The streets, the people who really knew how to dress. You could find good clothes there, nice and cheap,” he said, growing emotional as he confessed that he would rather be a Chávista than a Colombian.
“Nobody is immortal, but I want him to live, live on, for me and for all Chávistas,” Hernández exclaimed.
May he live on indeed. The Bolivarian project is, after all, so much bigger than Venezuela alone.