I could begin this post by saying how insulting the appointment of María Gabriela Chávez as the Alternate Ambassador to the U.N is.
I could say this is a slap in the face to all the International Studies students and professionals, how this is further evidence of the ways this government belittles higher learning, how people are chosen not by their merits but by their ties to chavismo, and how the Chavezes have become quasi-royalty in our country.
I could argue about how this designation probably serves two purposes:
1. To give Diplomatic immunity to Maria Gabriela. After all, just a few weeks before the announcement, a corruption scandal with her name on it was being reported in Venezuelan and Argentinian media. Some have even been calling her “La Reina del Arroz” (The Rice Queen).
But you already know this. I already know this. Instead, let’s have some fun.
“My Lady” said the maid softly, pulling back the curtains. “Lord Steward seeks an audience with you”.
The Infanta grumbled in her bed, hiding her head under the pillows.
“I do not wish to talk to him” she replied. “Tell him I am indisposed at the moment. No, better tell him that I am preoccupied with matters of state.”
The maid fidgeted nervously. Seeing this, the Infanta snapped … “Whaaaat?”
“But, My Lady”, said the maid, swallowing hard. “He is already waiting for you at the Main Office.”
The infanta sat stiffly at the bed, her eyes shot red.
“He is here? Curse you all!, Why in all did they let him enter? I have commanded that he not put a foot in this house without my permission.”
The maid stuttered, not knowing what to answer. After a moment, she replied “He let himself in My Lady.”
Now her mood was nothing short of a foul rage. She kicked the covers from the bed, and paced back and forth angrily in her room. She was suffering from a massive headache, as she and her ladies-in-waiting had thrown a marvelous celebration the night before that extended well into the morning hours.
The maid pressed herself against the wall, not knowing whether to leave her ladyship or to prepare her clothes for the audience.
After a moment of cursing, the Infanta calmed herself down.
Well, no matter, I’ll make the best of this, she spoke to herself. After all, I did intend to call him to my office this month.
The Infanta of Sabaneta had found it progressively harder to throw her lavish parties and to sustain her equally extravagant lifestyle after her father’s death. In the beginning, the restaurants lined up with exotic delicacies, expensive spirits, and fought for the honor of catering to her and her siblings. But now, few caterers even agreed to tend to her expensive needs, and some, in the most insulting way, refused service without prior payment.
She dressed ever so slowly. She had her breakfast ever so patiently. She walked ever so calmly to the office where the Lord Steward had been waiting since midday.
“My Dear Infanta,” he said, bowing deeply.
She smiled sourly and tilted her head back ever so slightly as too truly look at him from above.
“My Lord Steward, it is so good of you to presence. You must forgive my tardiness, it seems I may be out of health and, of course, tending to the business of the realms all but take the time of day.”
“I’m sorry for your illness My Lady, please forgive this abrupt audience, but I had to speak to you right away.” He began, being cut off abruptly by the Infanta.
“It is providential that you are here My Lord. My good father, in his deathbed, named you the successor to the realm, and in doing so, you have become our caretaker. My Lord, I trust you as he did. It pains me to say this, as I know it would pain you as well once you listen to my situation.” She started.
The Lord Steward lowered his gaze, his jaw set and his teeth grinding. She is going to ask for more. He thought. Again, this usurper who sleeps in my bed.
“The situation is positively alarming,” she continued. “We are all but destitute. We have tried to lessen our expenses and have cut off all unnecessary spending to no avail. I must speak for the wellbeing of my family, after all. Think of the children! The stipend you have chosen for us is far too low. I really do not know if we can bear it any longer.”
He listened with his eyes downcast to hide the contempt he felt for her.
For more than a year he had coaxed and bartered, lured and sweet-talked the Chavez heirs into releasing La Casona. He had issued ultimatums and threats, to no avail. He had been forced to use as his personal chambers La Viñeta, a lowly manor not fit for his status. But now, finally, he had enough leverage to evict them from his rightful abode.
“I am not insensitive to your troubles Infanta, and I am happy to say that providence is with us. For even in these times of trouble, there is always a solution to be found, and just so, I have come here today bringing wonderful news which will in fact, aid you in your precarious situation. I know they will be met with your absolute approval.” he said.
“Is that so…?” she asked surreptitiously.
“The banners of our enemies have grown, and they howl at our door, now more than ever since your father’s death. I have consulted the King of The Greater Antilles. We both feel that, for now, the best choice is for you carry our words and messages to the Empire City of the New World.” The Lord Steward continued, holding his breath as he spoke.
The Infanta went pale.
She had grown accustomed to her pleasurable life in the Kingdom, and althoughthe northern lands were to her favor, she held little power there. Furthermore, the Northern Kingdom was far from what you would call “friendly” to her father’s reign. She simply would not be able to do as she pleased. And to make matters worse, her father had forced many of her countrymen into exile – some now called Empire City their home. She was sure they would vex her daily with their ridicule and obnoxious jeers.
In her mind, this was nothing short of an exile.
“I assure you that this is the best choice,” he crooned, seeing the worry in her face. “I must have your answer inmediately, for it will be anounced today.”
So it really was not much of a choice, rather than a demand, she thought. Did she have a choice? As much as she thought about it, she came to the realization she had none.
“If you and our great friend think this is the best, then I will gladly accept,” said she.
“I deemed as much. I will prepare for public designation. I will now take my leave Infanta,” the Lord Steward finished brusquely.
The Lord Steward ran his fingers on the desk. Traced the form of the office with his eyes, felt the brass handle on the door. Soon, all this would be his, his royal home. The chambers, the rooms, the halls, the greenery. He would throw the parties, the meetings, the celebrations. He would finally evict the usurper, and her dreary family.
And once she was in foreign lands, he thought. Well, it would be easy to cut off the stipend to the rest of her family. He had enough of the Chavezes. It was time for new, mature flowers to bloom in the land of little Venice.
Meanwhile, the Infanta sat angrily in the office he had just departed from. The bastard had finally figured out a way to cheat her of her rightful inheritance.
She vowed to return one day and hold the throne herself. Soon, she thought.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.