1. The Man
“I cannot understand why I feel so lonely. After all these years, so many people, so many mistakes, so many victories, and here I am, all by myself and with this loneliness killing me softly. Everything I did was for nothing. If I could just go back. If I could just change some of my actions. If I just …”
This afternoon, like any other during the past few months, Frank is confronting his demons in a local cafe. Spending hours thinking about random things and watching people pass by. He is not the same Frank who “conquered the world” years ago. This Frank is old, defeated, broke, and alone. All the luxury, the women, the power, the connections, and even the loved ones are left behind. They are nothing more than a wishful memory. The guy who once was known as “A Political Monster” is now just another guy, another immigrant trying to make it in America, another common taxpayer in the US of A.
Frank Garza, the man once known as one of the most powerful and influential leaders in Venezuela, is now a foreign person lost in his own mental labyrinth. He is the third of six children, the son of Ana and Santino, immigrants from Spain and Italy who after the Second World War left a European tumult of political chaos, persecutions, and a great economic depression to move to Venezuela looking for a better life. Frank came from nothing and was able to reach the highest level of power in Venezuela, which was once one of the richest countries in the world due to its oil industry and mineral reserves. His two kids and wife are now in their own world, far away from him mentally, emotionally, and physically. They were once his empire and life trophy, and now they are just emotional ghosts.
More than 20 years ago Frank had migrated to America looking for his loved ones while running away from Chavez, one of Venezuelan’s most horrific dictators. He moved away from Venezuela in an attempt to reinvent himself, and after selling what he could in a highly depressed communist Venezuelan economy. Being in his late fifties, and with his remarkable past, starting all over again wasn’t an easy task. Frank’s parents had been immigrants and now it was his turn. How ironic life can be sometimes. He never thought he would ever be in a situation where leaving his country was a viable option. The simple suggestion used to anger Frank. He had worked so hard his whole life, only to abandon ship during the last years of his life. No way!
But life sometimes doesn’t let us choose, and here he was, lonely and ruined, dwelling on what it was, about his country, about the good moments, like a platonic love that never becomes more.
This is the story of a remarkable man born and raised in a poor neighborhood in Caracas, Venezuela, in a household full of love, dysfunctionality, intellectuality, hunger, violence, alcohol, European customs, laughter, tears, death, and more death. By a gracious miracle, this little boy ended up breaking the cycle of poverty and becoming a civil engineer, a highly successful manager in the private sector, a husband, a father, an ambitious and tenacious entrepreneur, a shrewd politician, the head of the family, and one of the most admired and respected persons in the country. Sadly, the demons from the past never left him completely and they ended up destroying most of his life’s accomplishments. This is a story full of ups and downs, of life lessons, and mostly of an unlimited desire for chasing dreams.