Conflicts & War

The Venezuelan ‘comandante’ in Ukraine

Rozhivka, Ukraine, Apr 16 (EFE).- Jose David Chaparro, 55, was born and bred in San Cristobal, the capital of the Venezuelan state of Tachira.

But his destiny ended up in Ukraine, where he is today known as the ‘comandante’ of a small division of Ukrainian volunteers helping to rebuild the cities devastated by Russian forces.

Chaparro’s journey to Ukraine was driven by curiosity when in the early 90s he moved to Kyiv to study international law.

“I wanted to understand the Soviet system,” he tells Efe.

“It’s like someone who would now like to go to North Korea to study their economic and political system,” he adds.

He later opened a legal services company in Ukraine before returning to Venezuela to work in the Office of Strategic Planning in which, among other things, he coordinated the first visit of former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez to Russia.

This is what landed him a job in Moscow, where he was appointed Chargé d’Affaires of Venezuela in Moscow from 2001 to 2005.

Despite his time in Russia and Venezuelan origins, Chaparro’s loyalty is to Ukraine.

Every morning, he dresses up in his military uniform, cap and rifle to join his unit of Ukrainian volunteers who are distributing food, water and basic goods to civilians affected by the Russian invasion.

“When this started, I felt a patriotic call, I felt that this was my second homeland and that I had to give everything I could for it,” he says.

Although Chaparro is fluent in Ukrainian and Russian, his comrades address him as ‘comandante’ in Spanish.

“In Venezuela I did not carry a weapon, nor a uniform, nor was I available for combat. Now I am. I carry a weapon, I wear a uniform, I am under a civilian and military line. And that is quite a substantial difference.”

Chaparro is familiar with Russia and its politics, but still does not understand its motives for invading Ukraine on February 24.

“If you would have told me this happened 150 years ago, it was more feasible. But now? We are already reaching Mars, sending satellites, sending people to other planets… are we now slaughtering and killing each other in cold blood?” he says.

“I hope it ends soon.” EFE


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