República del Este / Francisco Massiani

Republic of the East

To Adriano González León

Níyume, my love, yesterday you were like a ray of sunlight in the crystals of my window on a cloudy day. We talked about loved ones (I remembered Eulimar, Nelly, Beatricita, and friends like Florencio, José Luis, Luis Yslas, José Miguel), and you told me about Oscar Marcano, about your dad, your brother, and inevitably, yes, about Adriano, about Adriano’s regrettable death.

We were drinking red wine (me more than you) and then you had the idea of asking me about the República del Este. Yes, it was at the Paprika, an enormous bar located on Mexico Avenue in the 1960s, where the unforgettable Caupolicán Ovalles proclaimed himself President of a new republic: La República del Este. The witnesses were Camilo Guevara, who was designated Secretary of State that same afternoon; Mario Abreu, Minister of the Interior; Alejandro Oliveros, Minister of Culture; and yours truly as Ambassador to Corsica.

I told you, Níyume, or I remembered with saudade, about the places where we used to meet, in those years (the hippies, explosive Woodstock, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, the eternal Beatles, the French May, Georges Moustaki, Serge Reageni, the Latin American literary Boom: the grand Rayuela, Vargas Llosa’s La casa verde, García Márquez’s Cien años de soledad, Adriano’s País portátil, and Garmendia’s Los pequeños seres. As well as the admirable poetry of Gerbasi, Cadenas, Montejo, Sánchez Peláez, García Morales, Guillermo Sucre (and I think Hanni Ossott’s devastating poetry wasn’t quite known about yet). Some of the places in that delicious Caracas of the 1960s include the Paprika, the Tic Tac, the Gato Pescador, the B.Q., the Frisco, the Don Luis (a German brewery) the Baviera, the Suma bookstore, the Viñedo, the Vesuviana, where we used to gather with those beloved beings, many of them now dead: Manuel Alfredo Rodríguez, Luis Salazar, Hugo Batista, Manuel Quintana Castillo, Oscar Díaz Punceles, Marcelino Madrid, Junio Pérez Blasini, Alberto Brand Vallés, Miyó Vestrini, Mary Ferrero, María Elena Giusti, Tamara William, Alberto Patiño, Carlos González Vegas, Héctor Mayerston and Héctor Valverde.

Returning to the República del Este, if memory serves me right, its presidents, elected during drinking sessions amidst cordial friendship, included Manuel Alfredo Rodríguez, Elías Vallés, Junio Pérez Blasini and, of course, Caupo, who proclaimed himself President several times. Adriano frequently attended these gatherings. As did Orlando Araujo, César “Loro” Señini, Negra Maggie, Trina, Orlando’s enchanting wife, the beautiful Violeta and Chino Valera Mora.

Yes, Níyume, yesterday afternoon was marvelous. Nostalgic, sweet wine. It was like a ray of sunlight in the crystals of my window on a cloudy day. It was the afternoon with wine (a sunny afternoon) and more wine, along with happy and tender friendship.

{ Francisco Massiani, El Nacional, 21 February 2008 }

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