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Racism in Venezuela

By Aleksander Boyd

London 28 Oct. 04 - I just got off the phone with Bill Fletcher, director of TransAfrica Forum. The reason was that I wanted to learn his impressions vis-à-vis the video clip of President Chavez calling one of his supporters ‘negro’. Mr Fletcher said that his immediate reaction when seeing my email in his inbox was to delete it for “that is the kind of bull I always get from virulent anti-Chavez media…” He also admitted that he did not see the video clip and would check with his sources the context in which the pejorative remark was made. His sources, as I am only too aware, are the paid agents of the Venezuelan Information Office…

To his full credit he acknowledged that any racially tainted comment made to abuse somebody is wrong, moreover to my surprise Fletcher does know the difference between nigger and negro. As I, and many of my fellow Venezuelan bloggers have argued, there is no such thing as racism in Venezuela. However upon returning from one of their ‘political holidays’ to Venezuela I remember having read something from TransAfrica in regards to the very racist character of the Venezuelan media. Here is an excerpt taken from Venezuelanalysis:

Racism was directed not only to Chavez and his followers, but also to our delegation, making racial remarks against us in newspaper cartoons, e-mail that we received, and newspaper editorials. The opposition to Mr. Chavez did not respect the point made by our delegation and dismissed us without taking seriously our observations and analysis.

Also in that government funded website, Venezuelanalysis that is, I could find an elaborated ‘argument’ from sociologist Greg Wilpert in which he stresses that indeed there is racism in Venezuela. Very well then. Since racism is “alive and well” -Wilpert’s dictum- in my country and building upon the experiences gathered by the delegation headed by Fletcher I really wanted to know what did he think of Chavez racial remarks. Alas whatever the “virulent anti-Chavez media” reports is not credible insofar as the context in which the racial remarks are made remain unchecked. Evidence is not something that those enamoured with Chavez consider worthy. The fact that the neo fascist coupster has been filmed clearly abusing his power and giving a rather gross spectacle of how facile it is for him to insult dissenters, even when they conform his own ‘beloved’ support base, matters not; it is a non issue for the first world intellectual prostitutes paying lip service to the revolution.

Famous Venezuelan cartoonist Zapata draw the cartoon depicted above. It generated a flurry of comments from ‘human rights activist’ who were utterly appalled and disgusted at the racial insinuations made. More recently when Zimbabwe’s butcher Robert Mugabe visited Caracas, yet again Venezuelanalysis posted, another article whose opening sentence is:

“a grotesque and indecent spectacle full of racist content” a group of Ambassadors from African nations in Venezuela described the ridicule of the President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe in a local TV show broadcasted by the commercial network Globovision.

Allegedly a group of African Ambassadors to Venezuela took offence by the mocking made of dictator Mugabe and sent a letter to Globovision’s director Federico Ravell which among other things states:

Simply speaking, Mr. Director, your network's television viewers have been presented with a very grotesque and indecent spectacle, full of vulgar effects, despicable expressions and many ridicules and gestures full of racist content. By the way, this is a behaviour that leaves too much to be desired, about the democratic talent, the manners and the intellectual moral of the producers of this television program.

The letter was signed by the Libyan, Nigerian, Algerian, Egyptian, Saharawian and South African Ambassadors to Venezuela. I do not recall having read or seen such a letter from these ‘diplomats’, if one could call them so, with respect to the evidently grotesque and despicable spectacle of the National Guard shooting, arresting, beating and torturing peaceful demonstrators whilst befriended Mugabe nod during the summit. Having democratic Mugabe in such high esteem, one has to wonder whether these seudo diplomats have condemned him for what he has done to his fellow countrymen.

Summarising:

• Racial remarks made by the media signify that indeed racism is a huge problem in Venezuela.

• Racial remarks made by Chavez mean that negro does not always mean nigger.

• If I, as any Venezuelan would do, were to refer to Bill Fletcher as “el negro Fletcher” I am racist.

• If Chavez, as any Venezuelan would do, calls one if his supporters “tu negro, si tu, tu que estas ahi” he is not racist. The context needs to be analysed…

To conclude I will paraphrase "el negro Cosby" (a fine one he is):

"You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth."



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