Jesse Jackson and Danny Glover promote racial conflict in Venezuela
By Gustavo Coronel
October 16, 2005 | As a happy adolescent in the small town of Los Teques (20 miles west of Caracas) two of my best friends were Federico Escobar and José Landaeta. Escobar was known as El Negro Federico, because he was ebony black. Landaeta was called El Chino Landaeta because he had strong Chinese features. They are long dead now but I still remember both with great love. All my life in Venezuela I have freely interacted with people of all shades of color without ever giving too much thought to the racial issue. After all, Venezuelans are almost all brown; very few are pitch black or snow white. My first conscious encounter with race came when I was traveling from New York to Tulsa in a Greyhound bus to enter university, in 1951. My traveling companion was a black soldier and we had been talking non-stop when, at a point in time, he stood up and moved to the back. I thought I had said something to offend him but the reason was different: we had crossed the border into Missouri and blacks could no longer ride in the forward section. Many years later, while living in Lafayette, Louisiana, I was asked to fill out a form for the school of my children, stating their racial composition. I wrote: "white 27%, black 18%, Indian 50%, other 5%." The day after, I was asked to go and talk to the Principal. She wanted to meet the person who had written such an unorthodox description.
Back in Venezuela, in the oil industry, I worked side by side with blacks, browns, whites and considered most of them friends and even family. Those I did not get along with had ideas or attitudes I did not share but not a color I did not accept. As a typical member of the Venezuelan middle-class and living in a country that for many decades, from the 1940's to the 1990's, was a wonderful example of social mobility and fluidity, race played no role in my life. Negrito, mi negra, were and are words of endearment in our Venezuelan social dictionary. We are used to attach descriptive nicknames to people without a pejorative meaning. El flaco means the thin one. El gordo means the fat one. El camello, the camel, refers to someone slightly stooped. El gato, the cat, is usually someone light on his feet or with yellow eyes. We never mean to say that those so called are brutes or animals.
In mentioning this, I just wanted to illustrate the atmosphere that prevailed in Venezuela for many decades . . . until Hugo Chávez took over in 1999. Then, things changed.
In a very long and sugary article by Nicolas Kozloff for CounterPunch ("Hugo Chávez and the Politics of Race") Chávez is described as a "pardo . . . someone of mixed racial roots." The article adds: "Chávez's features are a dark-copper color and as thick as clay; he has protruding, sensuous lips. . . . His hair is black and kinky. . . . With a long, hatchet-shaped nose and a massive chin and jaw." When he arrived at the military academy Chávez had an Afro. He was poor and he married a poor woman. His education was not good, his economic situation not so bright. Chávez had limited possibilities to move up in the Venezuelan social scale, not because he looked the way he looked but because he did not have the required skills. People like him, of modest origins, but who attended the university and graduated as medical doctors, lawyers or geologists made it up the social end economic ladder in a much more fluid manner. As he could not do this, Chávez became resentful. He blamed the social system or his looks for his lack of success. This started him on the way to become a traitor to his oath as a soldier, on the way to use the guns given to him to defend the constitution and democracy to try to overthrow the democratic government of Carlos Andrés Pérez. He failed in his attempt, although he caused hundreds of innocent deaths, due to his military ineptness and his personal lack of courage. However, the desire of Venezuelans for political change brought him to power, through elections, six years later.
Once in power Chávez decided to get even. He started to promote social and racial hate, attacking the "Oligarchs" (the white and rich minorities) and incorporating racial components into his arsenal of hate words. In doing this Chávez has become the top racist in Venezuela. His presidency has become a war against the rich, the educated, and the ones who are high in the social ladder. To claim, as he does, that racism and social exclusion are only exercised against blacks and Indians is stupid. In fact, they are being exercised in Venezuela, today, against the light skinned and the upper and middle-classes.
In following this strategy of racial hate Chávez has found several willing partners in the U.S., people who are either looking for money from him or share the social resentment and psychological deformations that Chávez has brought to the Venezuelan political and social scene. Two of the most prominent Chávez allies, according to the article by Kozloff, are Jesse Jackson and Danny Glover. What Kozloff fails to add are the motivations behind this alliance. I think that what mostly moves Jackson is money and what mostly moves Glover is resentment. Jackson has a long record of using racial conflict as a means to extort money from large U.S. corporations and now figures that the Venezuelan scene could be a new gold mine for him and his Rainbow/PUSH coalition. Glover is a bitter man who wears his blackness as a cross, in spite of his success as a Hollywood actor and his buoyant economic status.
This alliance of Chávez, Jackson, and Glover should not be underestimated. They seem to have agreed on a rather perverse and hypocritical plan, already in motion at this moment in time and promising to bring great confusion to U.S. society and more poverty to Venezuelan society. The plan has two main components: one, handing out to U.S. poor citizens and racial minorities, cheap oil, as a means to "prove" that Venezuela is generous and Chávez is good and, of course, that the U.S. is mean and Bush is a monster ("Venezuela promises cheap oil to poor Chicagoans," The Chicago Tribune, October 13, 2005 and "Rainbow/PUSH event draws actor Glover, Venezuelan ambassador," Chicago Defender, October 14, 2005). The other, to intensify the racial hate in Venezuela, to convert the revolution into an all-out fight between the colored and the whites. Let us consider these two components:
1. Venezuela giving cheap oil and free medical attention to poor U.S. citizens, members of the black and Indian communities, might sound like a wonderful idea to those who might benefit from this plan and to those who hate the U.S. and love any initiative that promises to antagonize their favorite enemy. But the actions by Chávez are not only self serving, a strategy to gain sympathy among the U.S. poor but also criminal since, whatever help is given by Venezuela to foreign citizens, has to be done at the expense of the tragedy of the 85% of poor Venezuelans who are worse off today under Chávez than before he arrived in power. You see, Venezuelans today are dying for lack of proper medical attention and medicines in State hospitals, they are not being educated to become self starting citizens, they are being subjected to a policy of handouts which has already converted them into a parasitic society. Venezuelan streets are full of garbage, crime is rampant, and corruption is at an all time high. Venezuelan society is in ruins. Is it logical to believe that Chávez would be bringing relief to the U.S. poor as an altruistic initiative? No one should be fooled into believing that this is an altruistic initiative. This is fraudulent political propaganda, one that will only benefit Chávez and whoever assumes the role of "distributing" the oil among the poor. We suspect that Jesse Jackson would play a big role in this "distribution," due to his strength in the Chicago area, although TransAfrica Forum, the organization where Glover is Chairman, also wants to participate.
2. Promoting racial strife and hate into Venezuela. Bill Fletcher, the president of TransAfrica Forum, said to Kozloff: "I feel that black issues need to be injected into [Venezuelan] politics." Fletcher has been in Venezuela only once, for a few days, invited by Chávez all expenses paid. During his brief visit to my country, Harvard educated Fletcher, hardly a New Orleans evacuee, did not lose anytime to compare Chávez with Martin Luther King (when, in fact, he is closer to the dark side of Malcolm X). I have to ask Bill Fletcher, who is a very civilized person: Why do you feel that racial issues have to be injected in a society that never had the type of racial tensions that you might have experienced in the U.S.? Why do you have to export to my country your bitterness, your hates, your frustrations, and your inferiority complexes? I have to warn Bill Fletcher and his colleagues that, by intervening in Venezuela with their imported racial hang ups, they might be doing the equivalent of what European travelers did, bringing small pox into the New World. With one difference: Fletcher and his friends will be doing it consciously.
I am seriously worried about the degree of criminal intervention that foreigners are practicing in my country: Cuban mercenaries, Nicaraguan rapists, Bolivian cocaleros, U.S. social and racial profiteers, European and Latin American ideologues and fanatics, fascist relics, communist fossils, Muslim extremists and radical Islamics, Colombian narco-terrorists. All the intellectual refuse of the globe seems to be descending on my country, invited by a grotesque, semi-illiterate dictator, with their travel expenses paid with the money that is not Chavez's but ours.
I say to Jackson, Glover and all the rest: hands-off my country. Have the decency to leave us Venezuelans sort out our own problems. Do not try to make a buck at the expense of our tragedies. Concentrate on the problems that you think you have at home.
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