Photos: Ulises Zavala
Fabiana Andreína Rosales Guerrero was in her second day of work at Sun Channel; she was doing her internship to finish her Mass Media degree when she got a phone call that filled her with despair. Her friend’s call brought the terrible news that her mother had decided not to break until her husband, Juan Gerardo Guaidó, had joined her. Fabiana hung up shaking. Her father had just died.
She was temporarily living in Caracas for the internship. Back then she lived in Maracaibo, where she’d moved to study in the Rafael Belloso Chacín University. But that wasn’t her hometown either. Fabiana Rosales was born in the Clinic of the Child, in Mérida, at 1:45 p.m. on April 22, 1993, daughter of Carlos Rosales Belandria, a farmer from Las Tapias, near Bailadores and journalist Elsy Guerrero, born in Valle de Mocotíes. Fabiana is the youngest of two siblings. Her brother’s a political activist like her, since he was a student. Between them, there was a baby who died at eight months old.
When her studies and the distance between Zulia and Mérida allowed her, Fabiana joined her father in the farm. She also went with him to Caracas, where Carlos Rosales travelled almost every week to sell his products in the Coche market.
In the first ten minutes of the interview, Fabiana was putting on makeup, applying foundation, pastel eyeshadow and lipstick while the photographer captured the first images.
“I loved helping him,” Fabiana reminisces. “We both took my contribution very seriously. I had to fill the guide [the circulation permit to transport merchandise. An important task, because the National Guard stopped us constantly. Since I was a girl, I witnessed the abuses that farmers suffer; my dad usually had to give up half of his hard-won earnings on police and GNB checkpoints.”
Once in the Coche market, Carlos unloaded the vegetables and set them up in his stand. She often stayed overnight in her dad’s small office in the market. Early in the morning, when the first customers arrived, she helped him with the cash. “My dad felt happy when I went with him.”
Carlos died of a stroke in his farm in Mucurubá on May 1, 2013. He managed to get to the local Integral Diagnostics Center, “but they had no alcohol for the needle,” said Fabiana with serenity. “I lived through that. They destroyed everything.”
“They called my dad’s doctor in Mérida,” Fabiana says, “and he recommended a sublingual pill and immediate ambulance transfer. But they had neither the pill nor an ambulance. Finally, someone found a vehicle, but it had no brakes. Meanwhile, the doctor waited, but when the car arrived, he was dead.”
This happened six months before her graduation. She decided to go on. She finished the internship as scheduled and then her thesis: Behaviour of Vote in Venezuela, between 1958 and 2013. “Back then,” said Rosales, “I was already a Voluntad Popular member, so I had the support of Leopoldo López and Freddy Guevara, whom I interviewed many times.”
The Belloso Chachín University was her fifth institution; Maracaibo, her third city. Between first and third grade, she studied in the Ananías Avedaño public school, and then in La Presentación until sixth grade. After that, she moved from Tovar. “My mom wanted to take me out of the town, so we went to Mérida, where she enrolled me in the San José de la Sierra school.” She studied fourth and fifth year in the San Martín de Porres high school, where she graduated in Sciences.
“Even then I knew what I wanted to study. While I lived in Tovar as a girl, my mom got me in all sorts of activities. I studied ballet, dance, modeling and acting… but I knew I wanted to be a journalist, like my mom, and I often went with her to her office.”
After finishing high school, Fabiana sought a place in UCAB, in Caracas and in Maracaibo. She turned west because the career started several months earlier. She’s organized, disciplined, success-oriented.
“I liked Maracaibo a lot and I adjusted quickly, even though I had no family there. My experience in the university was excellent. I had very good teachers and the institution had updated equipment and good labs. I loved the city, but the weather drove me crazy. I told my friends they had to understand me, I’m gocha, this heat is too much for me.”
She joined VP during university. “I was there before it was a party, when it was just a movement. I had already been with my brother in the 2007 protests, he was part of the ‘2007 Generation’. I joined Leopoldo on his tours in Zulia, in the primaries of 2012; then I joined Henrique [Capriles] in some activities of the electoral campaign in the area. That experience had a profound impact on my student life. For instance, I was involved in the creation of a documentary about gasoline smuggling at the border. I personally witnessed the shady deals of the mafias supported by the state. I saw the National Guard turn a blind eye, the same guards who squeezed my dad off the result of his work.”
She was a student and a party activist. In October 2011, she travelled to Caucagua to attend the Federal Youth Assembly (JUVEFA). There, she met many party peers, including a tall, skinny boy who kept to himself, “perhaps because he’s always listening”. She soon learned that he follows Tiburones de la Guaira, while she’s a Magallanes fan. “I met him and many others while we worked, it was nothing special. Those were campaign days, so we often met in events. One day we talked longer than usual. We went out for arepas with a group from work. Then, we started talking longer and longer, especially about baseball and politics. And well, here we are.”
Fabiana describes Juan Guaidó as a sober man, not too fond of exhibiting emotions and much less let himself be carried away by them: “He’s very quiet, maybe because he’s always listening.”
Juan Guaidó was born at 10:45 a.m. on July 28, 1983. His wife describes him as a sober man, not too fond of exhibiting emotions and much less let himself be carried away by them. “When we started dating, I thought he was really closed off and that I couldn’t expect him to express his feelings, but after our daughter Miranda Eugenia was born, in May 2017, he experienced a transformation and now he’s more expressive. Well, a bit more. He has a light, relaxed and joyful spirit. He dances well, even drums. And I drink guarapita.”
Are you also a good dancer?
“Not so much, but Juan and me fit perfectly. I don’t know if anyone’s watching us when we dance but we enjoy ourselves.”
What’s Juan Guaidó’s wound?
“The Vargas tragedy. Juan lost his home, his school, the court where he played with his friends. His whole world vanished overnight. It’s a bleeding wound in him, that’s why he understands Venezuelans who have had to leave the country and those whose lives were shattered.”
“I see the country like my home in Tovar; a warm place, where everyone has a place of love and respect, where we support each other. That’s our role as a couple in these circumstances and my role as the wife of the caretaker President is to stand by him and support him.”
In the first ten minutes of the interview, Fabiana was putting on makeup, applying foundation, pastel eyeshadow and lipstick while the photographer captured the first images. She wears her nails short and without polish. When I ask about her health, she explains that she suffers from headaches since she was a girl, and they’ve intensified and became more frequent after the Caesarian section to have her baby. “Yeah, I want to have another child. I love my brother and I know how wonderful it is to have siblings. I want one more baby, a son. Juan wants to have a whole soccer team.”
Do you feel like First Lady?
“I know my husband is caretaker President of Venezuela. I’m perfectly aware of that. But I feel like First Lady is too big a title for me. I was born in ‘93, when ‘this’ began I was five years old. My reference of a First Lady is Michelle Obama; and my role models are my maternal grandmother and my mom, women who work outside the house and who are the core of the family. I see the country like my home in Tovar; a warm place, where everyone has a place of love and respect, where we support each other. That’s our role as a couple in these circumstances and my role as the wife of the caretaker President is to stand by him and support him.”
Michelle Obama talks, in her recently published memoirs, about the anxiety she felt of “screwing up.” How do you live with this?
“Keeping the distance, of course. When people are watching, we’re afraid of messing up. In Venezuela, there’s so much sensibility right now, people have been deceived, mistreated and mocked so many times. I’m afraid of hurting someone, of wounding the feelings of my fellow citizens. All of this has happened so fast. Now I’m in a public role, with lots of visibility, but I’m still me. I’m gocha, as I said, but gocha, gocha. And we Andinos are very helpful people. I’m really normal. And that’s what I want to give to Juan, my daughter and the country, normalcy, so they can feel at peace. I believe in laughter, in joy, in the small things that make us happy.”
Do you fancy yourself as a First Combatant?
“No, because I don’t see life as a confrontation but as a challenge. I don’t want to fight anyone. I want to support, contribute and offer solutions. I’m here to serve. And I know very well who I’m married to. Juan worked at a transnational company, where he earned a good salary. He left that job to distribute leaflets, to protest and to get beaten down by repression. My husband is madly in love with this country. And people in love don’t fight, we embrace.”
“I understand the Armed Forces. I understand their fear. But I also know that if you do the right thing, your children will be proud of you.”
Have you been following the #GuaidóChallenge?
“We laughed so hard. The whole world is doing it! Who would’ve thought?”
Was Guaidó in that meeting?
“I have no idea. There are things I don’t ask about. But hopefully that meeting will take place, so they tell us the time and date when they are going leave.”
How did you feel addressing the Armed Forces?
Very calm, because I tried to talk from my heart. It wasn’t difficult because I understand them. I understand their fear. But I also know that if you do the right thing, your children will be proud of you. Both of Juan’s grandparents were soldiers, in a time when uniforms inspired respect. Now the uniforms cause fear and spite. I want Venezuelans to recover their respect for military symbols.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.