It was the kind of night when you go over the sums again and again. Sacando más cuentas que un chino. I guess anyone who’s made the decision I’ve made — that I just have to leave the country — knows what I’m talking about.

You sit there, Excel sheet open, and try to figure out where the money to make the move is going to come from. At some point, this sinking feeling hits you: it doesn’t matter what you do, it doesn’t matter what you sell. The numbers won’t work. Then you find yourself toying with impossible ideas, asking yourself what your most precious belonging might bring in.

That’s when I take out the old books. I’ve always been a history nerd, and my family encouraged my taste for it.


In a flash, I find myself I’m considering it, and I can’t believe I’m considering this. But just as fast, I know I’ve decided.

The old books connect me instantly, viscerally to my happy, nerdy childhood. They belonged to my grandfather José Jesús Ferrer Luna, and to my mother’s stories of what an illustrious Margariteño he was. A real, Mason: proper 33º. My grandpa was one of the first administrators of what was then the only hospital on the island, and a futurist, a techie ahead of his time. Family lore has it that he brought the first Personal Computer to the island: a 1984 vintage Apple Macintosh. I’ve still got it in my loft.

He left the books to me as his last will: he died in December of 1993, just 6 months after I was born.

Quickly, I turn to my favorite one: the “Multimagen de Rómulo”.

It’s a biographical picture book about Rómulo Betancourt, with amazing photos by Carlos Gottberg and equally amazing texts by Juan Liscano. Best yet, it’s actually signed: autographed by Rómulo himself, in 1978, at his house, Pacairigua.

In a flash, I find myself I’m considering it, and I can’t believe I’m considering this. But just as fast, I know I’ve decided.

However much the Multimagen means to me, I know I need to get out. Life in this country is impossible. And there’s that signature. Maybe a collector would value it.

I guess normal kids don’t think that much about the history or the political situation around them: they just go to the playground and do their thing. But I’m from a political family: the public life of the nation seemed as natural a part of my upbringing as a game of metras. Grandpa wasn’t just an eccentric, he was a local grandee: a municipal councillor and a bedrock of the community. In the early 60’s he was a mover-and-shaker in URD, and a close friend of Jovito Villalba.

He never doubted that his children ought to and would take part in public life. He turned to Acción Democrática when my aunt Morelia (his daughter) married the youngest congressmen that Nueva Esparta ever had, Felipe Rodríguez ávila, who was state Secretario General for the party from the early 1985 till 2000’. Our family quickly went white, and never went back.

I was just six the time Antonio Ledezma came to visit my dad, his Compadre. I was playing with the books, especially this one, the Multimagen, when Antonio noticed it and told me me “Caramba jota jota, te va a gustar mucho la política, como a tú mai, ese hombre que ves ahí es uno de los más importantes de nuestra historia, nunca lo olvides.”


Of course, Rómulo himself was exiled for many years: leaving, when staying is impossible, isn’t giving up. It’s regrouping.

I never did forget. My curiosity grew. I was already asking questions, and started to ask more.

For me, my Multimagen stands for the hopes we all once had for a democratic Venezuela, and for an erstwhile opponent’s dawning respect for a man that changed the nation.

My goal is to go to Argentina, to Buenos Aires, to build a new future with my wife and to try to give our families back home a little help while we wait for a chance to come back. I think Romulo would approve of that. Of course, he himself was exiled for many years: leaving, when staying is impossible, isn’t giving up. It’s regrouping. I’d like to think that the Multimagen can help me do that, and that Rómulo would approve.

I ask Quico if he knows who might be interested in the book, and in giving me a hand in the process. He thinks about it a bit and tells me, “well, I bet there’s a Caracas Chronicles reader out there who will want it. Not just because it’s an amazing artefact, but because a lot of my readers are people who’ve gone through what you’re going through, and somebody out there will want to help.”

Then the idea for this post was born. I liked it right away, because I need to know my Multimagen is going to find a decent home, that it will end up in the hands of someone who treasures it like I’ve treasured it. And if that’s not a Caracas Chronicles reader, who is it?

I flip back through the pages one more time, and picture my porteño years.

You can bid on my Multimagen de Rómulo, and help me on my way to Argentina, on this eBay page.

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