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"Day of Indigenous resistance" and other cheap leftist myths in Venezuela (and elsewhere)

By Daniel Duquenal

[Warning! Not necessarily a PC post! Contains violence against statues!] Today is October 12 and we commemorate the arrival of Columbus to our shores 512 years ago (mainland will have to wait for August 5, 1498, when the first Spaniard actually landed in the continent, Venezuela as it turns out, somewhere in Paria Peninsula). Until Chavez October 12 holiday was called "dia de la Raza" or day of the race. This came as the acknowledgement that our Venezuelan society is one of the most heterogeneous racial mix in the Americas, comparable only to Brazil. Already Bolivar extolled our racial mixture. Maybe the appellation using the word race needed perhaps some updating in this new brave politically correct world (1), but at least it had the merit to indicate that our social divisions were more along class lines than actual racial lines.

Though it would be na´ve to deny that the lighter the skin the more likely it was to be close to the social top, it remains that in Venezuela the only recent president that could be qualified 100% white was Rafael Caldera. If Chavez is the first unambiguous mixed race president (and forgive this oxymoron) that mark could have been already broken in 1993 when Claudio Fermin, African Venezuelan, made it a close second to the presidential race, so to speak. Whatever folks say, Chavez has scores of white supporters and scores of blacks/native/mestizo/mulatto/zambo opponents.

But the bolivarian revolution could not accept this general ambiguity of our society and soon, in spite of Bolivar own words, it started building a racial argument in its justifications, even if it were only in words. The objective was to prey on the cliches of the world lefties and gain their support for a pseudo revolution. While, of course, radicalizing some of the bases of chavismo, just in case some violence would be required and needed to be justified. We got an excellent recent example of this when the Trans American Forum issued its report on Venezuela, duly debunked by Gustavo Coronel. The same type of criticism and manipulation could be levied against many leftist organizations that swarm Caracas either to be naively illuminated or in reality trying to find financial support from an only too willing patron of LatAm leftist causes. One would be forgiven for speculating that the only requirement to obtain such grants would be to use the words Bolivar and Chavez somewhere in the grant application.

All of this support and adulation to Chavez is not helping his natural tendency to promote his incipient personality cult. Now, victor of August 15 one way or the other, he can face his first ceremonial holiday, one that he has renamed himself. Celebrations started already on October 9 when the vice president of the National Assembly herself announced that we are finally in the de-colonization process, thanks to Chavez of course.

"with this event, we are responding to the last centuries of colonization and projecting our culture to the world."

Today Chavez, who likes more and more to be pictured with small children as this blog has already pointed out, went with full regalia to the National Pantheon to invoke Bolivar and Gaicaipuro, the most glorified of the Native American chiefs, though not necessarily a deserved honor. One cannot resist reproducing the picture of the event.

And how could one pass on another recent glorified representation of the beloved leader as shown by the state news agency? Chavez is shown alone grandly presiding now over, literally, an oil industry that finally belongs to us.

In the Valcor project inauguration he showed the true self of the revolution: populism of the worst stripe. Two quotes are worth reproducing:

"Today is a day for the history. It is the day when we started the counter-attack towards fascism, that wanted to take off our country to give it to the empire" {this for the anti US folks of the world, I am sure they will be delighted}

And referring to the increase in oil taxes to foreign oil projects:
"This is going straight to the state because this is the money of the people and it is to be distributed among the neediest"

Just in case anyone has any doubt about Chavez populism true self, just plain repartition. Though I am sure a significant portion of this new money will find its way into a few chavista pockets...

But holding such divisive and revisionist language cannot go without consequences.

Today, a group of chavistas destroyed a statue of Columbus in Caracas, blaming him for all the ills that beset them (2).

An indication of what is yet to come when populism marries authoritarianism and militarism? Are we still talking baby steps towards fascism? The news was quickly picked up by the international wires, certainly not a glowing reflection on the beloved leader ratified on August 15...

But what is the real situation of indigenous people in Venezuela, may the reader ask? Except for a few sponsored ethnographic studies to preserve near extinct languages their lot does not seem to have improved significantly. A visitor could see many native Venezuelans holding the tin can at many a Caracas intersection. Notwithstanding the new constitutional provisions to improve their lot, Native people seem as destitute or forgotten or both. The few Native leaders that have risen in the shadow of Chavez are as subservient and insensitive to the plight of their brethren as any Venezuelan politician of old. In this they are equal to other Chavez followers, the great equalization tool of authoritarianism! Chavez might like to kiss Native babies, but he is far from offering them redress. Unless tearing down a Columbus statue and bringing it to Chavez (3) will allow them to vicariously experience "revenge"........

Ah! It is hard to remain a liberal (US sense) in Venezuela these days!


(1) the Politically Correct appellation today is "day of the encounter of two worlds", forgetting about America's discovery and other cliches, but still recognizing that the story if the world changed that October 12, no matter what end of the stick one was.

(2) Columbus statues have become targets recently. Aporrea, the Chavez forum of note, has been promoting a campaign against Columbus statue. Hard to believe in the spontaneity of today's action.... I have saved "printscreen" mode a portion of their home page tonight, which I visited a little bit after posting today's note. Observing the image the gentle reader will see that Aporrea is actually proud to have induced overturning a statue that was 100 year old and certainly not put up by Columbus contrary to what Saddam Hussein did. But historical perpective and the simple notion of moving it somewhere, or even sell it to some collection, are not considerations for which chavismo is known for.

(3) Globovision showed footage of people dragging the torn down Columbus statue to the meeting place where Chavez was going to preside an act. A trophy of sorts, just like when my cat brings me a dead bird or mice.

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