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Race differentiation in Venezuela

By Jorge Arena | The Devil's Excrement

23.06.05 | Despite the reported elimination of the “notas en positivo” section from the MINCI web site, there is always something interesting going on in the MINCI pages. I learned from this MINCI article that there is a group of Venezuelans identified by the new term “Afrodescendientes” (of African Descent) and that the government has designated May 10 as the day of the “Afrovenezonalidad”.

In this piece of news, there is also a report on the recent International Encounter of Afrodescendientes in Caracas to which Minister Andres Izarra, the Cuban minister of Cultural affairs, Abel Prieto, as well as the president of the National Assembly, Nicolas Maduro, participated. Maduro reported on the occasion that it is possible that the National Assembly would even pass an “anti-discrimination” law.

I was very surprised to learn that Nicolas Maduro, the president of the Venezuelan highest legislation entity, would propose such a new law. There is already a law in Venezuela that protects against any type of discrimination. It is called the Constitution.

Race discrimination, Nicolas, is specifically mentioned in the first paragraph of article 21.

Readers from around the world may wonder why I am making such a big deal about this new terminology introduced by the Chavistas. I know that in many countries, the population is often differentiated based on race, language, ancestors and/or origin, but in Venezuela, the situation is, or was, quite different.

Due to a history of repeated wars and immigration waves, Venezuelans ended up being a true racial melting pot. In a single family, one may find as many variations of skin colors as types of Espressos and Cappuccinos in a Starbuck’s Café. I have had the opportunity to travel and live in several countries and I have never seen such a permeable society as the one we have (we had?) in Venezuela. Venezuela used to be a country of real opportunities, regardless of race. And if one would have to choose one single unracist country in the whole world that would be Venezuela.

Then came Chavez.

His revolution feeds on hatred and division. So he cleverly started a policy of reminding people that they were somehow “different” from each other. I say it was clever because he reached two different goals with that policy: to put Venezuelans against Venezuelans and to gain the sympathy of the politically correct elites of this world.

Why does he want to put Venezuelans against Venezuelans? Because he is inefficient, he does not know how to run the country and the only way to keep his popularity up is to divide, to create an “enemy” and to be constantly seen as the savior from that enemy. And, of course, if that comes with increasing popularity abroad, the better.

I categorically refuse to use my mixed Venezuelan background for hatred or reverse racism. To do that, would be to undermine the suffering of those that have been real victims of racism in the world. But that is exactly what Chavez has been doing since he took power. He has systematically underlined and confused race with political factors to manipulate international opinion. He even takes advantage of his own mixed racial features to make believe that his enemies are racists and that his revolution is somehow related with race.

That is preposterous. I challenge anybody to have a look at the pictures of Chavista ministers and of opposition leaders and to be able to tell, just by their racial features, which is which.

So, it is with no surprise at all, that I find out that the Chavista government is supporting more race differentiation. It simply intensifies their campaign to divide Venezuelans and to look politically correct from abroad.

The funny thing is that the use of the term “afrodescendientes” has no sense at all in Venezuela since nearly everybody is an “afrodescendiente”. We may as well replace it by the good old term that we used before:

“Venezuelans”.



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