On February 20, 2009, Chávez dropped in by surprise at the house of Nohemí, over there in the community of El Cayude, some ten minutes beyond the town of Tocuato, on the road that connects the city of Coro with Punto Fijo, in Falcon State.
If her humble home was already small, Nohemí’s emotion could not fit, much less when Chávez entered accompanied by his team. The commander asked her if she had coffee and Nohemí ran to prepare it. She returned with the coffee, Chavez put it to his mouth, and immediately knew that something strange was happening. He asked Nohemí if that was really the coffee she had made, and she nodded, of course, although a little nervous.
False. The security team had slipped stealthily into the kitchen and, before Nohemí could get Chavez’s cup of coffee, some of the boys proceeded, in a matter of seconds, to replace it with the coffee brought by the retinue, carefully watching over the commander’s security.
Those present say that Chávez’s scolding was an anthology, to the point that Nohemí herself tried to intercede for the boys, which Chavez prevented, lovingly but firmly. In a thunderous voice, he asked his team if it could even be conceivable that Nohemí’s coffee would pose a danger to him.
Immediately after, he got rid of the coffee of the party, and drank, one, two, several cups of Nohemí’s coffee, in a defiant attitude, as if infinitely mocking the protocol that separated him from the men and women from the people.
On September 17, 2013, I met Nohemí. I talked with her for a while, she showed me the cup in which the comandante drank his coffee, and told me that she kept it as her most precious treasure. Never showed even the slightest detail of that incident, as required by the popular nobility. At some point she whispered in my ear that Chávez promised to return some day. His life didn’t reach that far. “He did not come, but you came,” she told me, and some tears ran down her cheeks.
Of course, I drank Nohemí’s coffee.
Very shortly after, on December 15 of the same year, we registered the Cayude Socialist Commune with Aroma de Café, the 448th in the country.
A couple of months ago Nohemí died, Jose Luis told me.
Speaking of coffee, not a day has passed since I arrived at this place where I now write that I lacked Victor’s coffee.
On one of these days he told me what he had prepared for lunch. He enjoyed it particularly. For the first time so far this year he ate beef. The same day he bought the meat, he also bought half a kilo of coffee.
There’s never a lack of coffee in Victor’s house. And there’s never a lack of Victor’s coffee on the desk when I’m writing.
It’s like a ritual: I get home, we greet each other, I climb the stairs, I get comfortable, I start to write, and a few minutes later Victor comes up with the freshly brewed coffee.
It’s a way to conjure solitude, to stay together: Chávez drinking Nohemí’s coffee, Nohemí sharing her coffee with me, Víctor doing the same. All the glory of the world fits in a cup of coffee, no matter how small it may be, Martí might have said, and perhaps from there comes its flavor when it is shared.
“The devil is in the details”, Chavez liked to repeat. The most genuine Chavismo is in the details like those of Chávez, Nohemí and Víctor. That’s why I brought two packages of 200 grams of coffee that Comuna Comandante Adrián Moncada produces, so we can all try it.
I have not paid for them, José Luis. But do not worry, I have the money here.
What will be the life of the people of El Cayude, of their Commune, of the aroma of their coffee?
Translated by EF/JRE