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Death of Venezuelan Strongman Chávez Resonates in San Francisco Area

A Valencia Street business owner indicated she had mixed feelings about Chávez, who was a champion for the poor of Caracas and all Venezuela, but whose policies struck fear and misgivings among many in the middle and upper classes.

The death of long-time Venezuelan leader and socialist U.S. adversary Hugo Chávez on Tuesday was felt on Valencia Street in San Francisco, where the owner of Pica Pica Maize Kitchen is from Caracas.

"We are in shock," Monica Varela, 42, told South San Francisco Patch in a phone interview just before 4 p.m. March 5. "I am from Caracas, here in the States for nine years."

Varela indicated she had mixed feelings about Chávez, who was a champion for the poor of Caracas and all Venezuela, but whose policies struck fear and misgivings among many in the middle and upper classes.

"My whole family is still in Caracas," the capital and largest city in Venezuela, Varela said. "I can't say I can celebrate anything today. Our president is dead. I can say it was a dangerous situation for many years.

"We need to see change, but I hope whatever comes it comes in peace," Varela said. "Peaceful elections."

Pica Pica Maize Kitchen is billed as inspired by the areperas of Venezuela, diners that offer arepas, chachapas and batidos, empanadas, yuca fries and plantains, and freshly-squeezed fruit juices.

There is no celebration planned tonight at the establishment, which is located at 401 Valencia St.

"We won't throw a party," Varela said. "It's a sad moment."

Chávez was president of Venezuela from 1999 to 2013. He was born July 28, 1954, and he died Tuesday at the age of 58 of cancer, according to news reports out of Caracas carried by the New York Times, the Guardian and the Associated Press.

In December of the same year Chávez took office, torrential rains unleashed two days of flash floods, landslides and debris flows in and around Caracas. It was one of the 20th century's deadliest disasters. The U.S. Geological Survey estimated 19,000 died. Other death counts ranged up to 50,000.

Days after the disaster, Chávez blamed the carnage on what he called the "criminal irresponsibility" of previous governments that had allowed people to build on such dangerous terrain. Chávez took office in February 1999.

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Fred Eiger March 06, 2013 at 05:27 AM
Well, Fidel and Raul's socialized medicince couldn't help this pig.
wolfone March 06, 2013 at 02:54 PM
Well follow the money! Bush tried to assassinate him for the oil. He would give oil every year to the people of Alaska's Bush who every year have to make a choice between eating or heating. The Gov does nothing. http://bit.ly/13FeZTO http://bit.ly/103xNar Its all about Money/Oil. And Fred before you call someone a PIG look in the mirror first you may be shocked. Medicine won't help you either when you get CANER!
Fred Eiger March 07, 2013 at 02:10 AM
Chavez was a murdering scumbag. He's roasting in flaming eternity. Hopefully, Venezuela can recover from that pig.
Mike March 07, 2013 at 11:39 PM
So from what I understand from the 2 comments made here so far, Fred thinks the man was a murderous scum bag, and wolfone believes Chavez was a good guy, everything connected with oil or failure is almost always George W Bush's fault, and Medicare is not going to help anyone when they get cancer. As for the article we have the owner of Pica Pica Maize Kitchen who is from Caracas mourning the death of his/her president. I find that statement most interesting, my immigrant grandparents after once stepping foot on US Soil NEVER referred to any president other that the President of the USA as being their president. I guess that is because they planned on staying here and wanted to be part of the USA not to just benefit from what the country has to offer. Who knows what that person is thinking or what they believe but, I find the statement "interesting" because I do not see or hear anything that is even similar from my good friends immigrant Asian wife, or my Marine nephew's South American immigrant wife who are now both naturalized citizens and they made that transition in less than 9 years.

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