BY SIMON SANDINO
Hugo wasn't universally popular at school. While many of the other kids were happy when he came around with candy - and yes, sometimes even money - he was mostly feared due to his status as the school's principal bully. Anyone who disagreed with him would typically be insulted in the meanest way. Sometimes he'd even throw a punch or two for good measure. Both in his class - where he had been president for some time now - and outside of the class.
Whenever Hugo bullied someone in the school courtyard, his closest friends Evo and Daniel were always there, cheering him on. Interestingly enough, whenever Hugo was absent from school - Evo liked to keep a low profile, except in his own class, where he always liked to blame the rich kids for anything that had gone wrong in the class - even though Evo was the president.
DANIELITO AND RAFAEL
Daniel was different than Evo - he eagerly sought the limelight, but - alas - none of the other kids cared, leaving Daniel to give his opinions to an audience of one - Rosario, a girl from his class who was known for having a sweet eye on Danielito, as she called him. Despite his high opinion of himself, Daniel was seen as somewhat crazy among his fellow students. Many of those who had voted for him as class president now regretted it, they said.
Then there was Rafael, who was always complaining and seemed constantly angry - although the target for his anger did vary from day to day. One day it would be such and such a teacher, another such and such a student - sometimes he'd even angrily denounce someone outside of school.
CATCHING THE THIEF
One day there was a big incident at Rafael's house. Alvaro - a fellow student who lived next door - had entered Rafael's garden chasing a thief who had repeatedly robbed Alvaro and his family. Alvaro had suspected for some time that the thief would hide in Rafael's house, but wasn't sure until that day, when he caught the thief and his bag of stolen goods. He was surprised to find so many stolen products - clearly the thief had been busy for some time, Alvaro concluded.
However, the next day, Rafael held a meeting at school denouncing Alvaro as a thug for entering his garden without first asking for permission. "But," Alvaro countered, "I wouldn't have had to enter the garden if the thief hadn't been hiding there."
Many of the other students agreed with Alvaro on that one, but Rafael kept telling everyone how terrible Alvaro was. Rafael did, however, get support from Hugo, who happened to live next door to Alvaro. "I'll throw apples at Alvaro's house," he threatened. Daniel, who actually lived in a whole different neighborhood, also weighed in, threatening to never talk to Alvaro again (they hadn't actually talked before, either). Many at school were surprised Daniel wanted to get involved since he wasn't that close to Rafael, but they suspected it had to do with his support for Hugo.
STOP THE MILKMAN!
There was also widespread surprise when Hugo's criticism of Alvaro became louder than that of Rafael. After all, the dispute was supposed to be between Rafael and Alvaro. After the apple threats, Hugo also threatened to stop the milkman or any one else who wanted to make deliveries at Alvaro's house. That caused several students whose fathers were milkmen or grocery deliverymen to complain that Hugo was over-reacting.
After a week of rising tension at school, one of its star students - Leonel - took the initiative of holding a meeting between Rafael, Alvaro, Hugo, Daniel and a few others who wanted to attend. Amazingly enough, he managed to get Hugo and Alvaro to shake hands and embrace, promising to be friends again. (No one was quite sure if they ever really had been friends before the dispute). Even Daniel smiled and shook Alvaro's hand. However, Rafael refused to do so and kept complaining.
News about the "peace deal" between Hugo and Alvaro traveled fast and most of the students were praising Leonel's achievement. They also wondered why the school's principal, Mr. Insulza, had not been more active in trying to diffuse the tensions. Some kids who knew the principal closely said it was because his mind was already elsewhere - a new job at another school closer to his house.
CANDY FOR CRISTINA
The dispute with Alvaro had kept Hugo busy, but he was now planning to spend more time with his friend Cristina and her boy friend Nestor. Cristina was the president of one of the other classes. She had been elected recently - succeeding Nestor. She had won easily after handing out lots of candy. Candy that, most of the class suspected, had actually come from Hugo.
Cristina was looking forward to getting some more candy from Hugo. It had not been easy being class president - the other kids just didn't respect her like they had Nestor. And there had been all kinds of problems - including a major disagreement about how to distribute the school materials. Some of Cristina's class mates had been outright mean - claiming that she was more interested in polishing her nails and buying clothes than doing her job as class president. Idiots! Being a great class president didn't mean she would forget to look pretty for Nestor, she thought to herself.
Now the kids were looking forward to vacation. Evo and Daniel wanted to spend time at Hugo’s house, but Hugo said he planned to visit his uncle Fidel for the summer. Cristina planned to spend all her time with Nestor and forget about the mean kids in her class. Rafael planned to continue being angry.
And Alvaro planned to spend some peaceful time at home – not worrying about the thief coming back.
Simon Sandino is a pen name. He wrote this article for Latin Business Chronicle. As incredible as it appears, Sandino swears it's based on a true story.
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