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Racist and Sexist Sunday Sermon: The World According to Hugo Chavez

By Alexandra Beech |

“The government of President Chavez has demonstrated during the past few years a great lack of respect towards women. The worst repression against the marches centered on women; military officers used gestures and obscene language against the women who didn’t share their political ideas; and President Chavez himself, on Valentine’s day, sent his wife through television a vulgar sexual message. Today, during the event organized against “foreign intervention”, [President Chavez] sent several messages to Dr. Condoleeza Rice, insinuating that “Condolence’s” problem with him was sexual frustration. Furthermore, he consulted with the ‘his people’, to decide if by marrying her he would resolve it. When people screamed “No”, Chavez finished his joke saying, ‘Poor Condolence, she doesn’t know what she’s missing!’” Dr. Maruja Tarre, Political Scientist and University Professor

January 23 - On Sunday, only days after Senator Christopher Dodd and Senator Lincoln Chaffee grilled National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice for her critical views of the Chavez government during a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez mocked Dr. Rice on state television. Minutes before his comments, a presenter on a Venezuelan government television program had joked that Dr. Rice “wants it badly or is in love with Chavez.”

When President Chavez heard the comment, he screamed that he was going to ask “Condolence” for marriage. When the audience screamed, “No”, he yelled: ”too bad she doesn’t know what she’s missing.”

As an American citizen, I am deeply offended by President Chavez’s comments. They are not only a mockery of the United States, but of a struggle which has cost many, many lives. Less than half a century ago, a Black woman couldn’t even sit on a bus if a White person was standing. In fact, it was another courageous Black woman, Rosa Parks, who sparked the civil rights movement in the United States.

In 1955, a public bus in the state of Alabama was divided in three sections. The seats in the front were reserved for Whites, the seats in the middle for Blacks, and the space in the back for standing was also occupied by Blacks, when the seats were taken. However, if the seats for Blacks were taken, and a White person boarded the bus, then a seated Black person would have to give up their seat for the White person. When Rosa Parks refused to stand and give up her seat, she was arrested.

Almost fifty years later, a Black woman is poised to become Secretary of State of the United States. Dr. Condoleeza Rice is a historical figure, and deserves respect as a scholar, a concert pianist, and a woman who has reached the apex of political success. While I do not agree with her government’s foreign policy, I am awed by her strength and courage to sit before the world and defend her views and actions. Unlike President Bush, Dr. Rice is willing to admit that her government has made mistakes, and is willing to make amends. Unlike her predecessor, Dr. Rice seems determined to confront and solve international problems.

Political scientist Maruja Tarre said, “as a Venezuelan woman, I am ashamed to listen to one more Venezuelan machista caudillo, who has not only offended [Venezuela women], but now is making fun of a foreign personality, not only for her ideas, but for being woman.”

In the past, President Chavez referred to Dr. Rice as “ignorant and illiterate.” While the Chavez government touts itself as a defender of women, Blacks, and Native Americans, President Chavez on Sunday demonstrated once again that he is both a racist and a sexist. Far from upholding the ideals of the Trans Africa Forum, Danny Glover, Toni Morrison, and others he has enlisted for support, President Chavez only has one goal: to remain in power and undermine the United States in Latin America and everywhere else.

Since Venezuela’s new Social Responsibility for Media Content Law does not include the president’s social responsibility towards women and minorities, Venezuela’s children will continue to be taught by the country’s leader to denigrate women. As long as women and minorities are reviled and oppressed anywhere, whether that be in Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, or even the United States, no country will be able to call itself truly free.

The US government needs to wake up. President Chavez cannot be allowed to mock Dr. Rice in order to garner internal support, as Senator Dodd would have us believe. If President Chavez wants “sovereignty”, as he constantly demands, then it is time that he start behaving like a president.

To support Rosa Parks, the Black community in Alabama organized a bus boycott which eventually led to the desegregation of public transportation. Many people walked miles to work every day, and others volunteered their time to drive people to work. Perhaps it is time to rethink whether Venezuelan oil is worth the cost of insults, and even lives. When principled decisions are taken for the improvement of a nation, miraculous events occur, such as the nomination of Dr. Condoleeza Rice.

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