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'Weston-zuela' Welcomes News Hugo Chavez Is Dead

Cafe Canela.JPG
C. DiMattei

It was busier than usual inside Café Canela last night, but owner Ramon Peraza repeatedly came out from behind the counter to give new arrivals a hug or a handshake. All of them were jubilant.

But Peraza struggles to describe his emotions.

“I feel that my heart is very, very happy and quiet, quiet. We are waiting for this for many years,” says Peraza

When Peraza says the word “quiet,” he makes a soothing gesture over his chest. 

Maria Diaz says she, too, was relieved when she received news of the death of Hugo Chavez.  But she says it’s too early to predict what will happen in her native country.

“The constitution said that we have to have elections in thirty days,” she begins.  “We hope and pray for a safe and peaceful development of the situation, but . . .”

Diaz shrugs.

“ . . . I don’t know,” she says.  “It’s very hard.”

Café Canela is just on the edge of Weston, a city with such a high concentration of Venezuelan expatriates, that it goes by the nickname “Weston-zuela.”

Parked outside is a Pathfinder with an American flag sticking out of one side, a Venezuelan flag on the other.  In the driver’s seat is George Centrella, a U.S. Army veteran of Italian descent.

“My wife is from Venezuela.  And Venezuela was a wonderful country.  It was very prosperous and they did very well.  And he (Chavez) won the first election and he fixed every one after that.  And it went continuously downhill.”

Twelve-year-old Albany Morales has only been in the United States for about a month.  During the impromptu celebration, she sat quietly at one of the inside tables while the grown-ups chatted excitedly.  She says she understands what’s going on and can sum up her feelings about Chavez’s death in one word.

“Libertad,” she says softly.


Years ago, after racking her brains trying to find a fun, engaging, creative night gig to subsidize her acting habit, Chris decided to ride her commercial voiceover experience into the fast-paced world of radio broadcasting. She started out with traffic reporting, moved on to news -- and never looked back. Since then, Chris has worked in newsrooms throughout South Florida, producing stories for radio broadcasts and the web.