[News] Strange Fruit: the racism and white supremacy of the Venezuelan opposition

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jul 31 13:00:19 EDT 2017


  Strange Fruit: Venezuela has an Opposition that Nobody Should Support

By Chris Gilbert - July 29th 2017

/Bolivarian University Professor Chris Gilbert addresses the racism and 
white supremacy of the Venezuelan opposition in light of recent 
lynchings against Black and Brown Venezuelans accused of being 
"Chavistas" or "thieves" by opposition militants. The most emblematic of 
these cases //was the public lynching of Afro-Venezuelan Orlando Figuera 
on May 20. Figuera was stabbed six times, doused in gasoline, and burned 
alive by opposition protesters in the eastern Caracas neighborhood of 
Altamira. He died in hospital ten days later. Other prominent cases 
include that of Danny Subero <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/13158>, 
Pedro Josue Carrillo <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/13135>, as well 
as a pair of youths <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/13206> in Lara 
state. /

No American, if that means a person from the United States, should 
support the Venezuelan opposition. Why? The question can be made this 
simple: Which side in the Venezuelan conflict produces "Strange fruit 
hanging from the poplar trees… a fruit for the crows to pluck"?

I refer, of course, to the fact that in a number of well-documented 
instances Venezuelan opposition forces have burned black people alive. 
This horrible fact should be enough to decide the issue for those in the 
United States when they think about which of the two sides to support in 
the struggle.

Yet it seems to be not so clear for some people. For them perhaps 
(paraphrasing the claim that Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza was "a 
son of a bitch, but our son of a bitch") the Venezuelan opposition is 
made up of "our" racists, "our" lynchers, and "our" neo-Klansmen. For 
them perhaps, these racist-lynchers-neoKlansmen are just doing what 
needs to be done to bring democracy to Venezuela.

I don’t see it that way, of course. Perhaps it is somewhat easier for 
me, since I live in Venezuela. Who would want to have such people 
running the show where you try to make a home?

Years ago, in an effort to combat the double standard and bad faith by 
which people ignore the impact of events in a distant place, 
contemporary artist Martha Rosler made montages that put the 
US’s Vietnam War atrocities right in people’s living rooms. Proper 
housewives and even stuffy First Ladies stand by while children are 
shown burned by napalm and mangled by bombings.

Rosler's method was perhaps naïve, but it still serves to get the point 
across. No one in any country should endorse a group that employs such 
terror. Yet this point should be especially clear for those in a country 
that has its own well documented memories of strange fruit – memories 
that are continually revived through vivid echoes in the present.

Many who favor the opposition will cite President Nicolás Maduro’s 
unpopularity and allege his incompetence. Yet this, too, is to employ a 
silly double standard and strong dose of bad faith. Supposing Maduro and 
his government were unpopular and incompetent, how, then, would they 
differ from any number of governments that nobody ever thinks of 
bringing down through lynchings and burnings?

They will also say: But Venezuelans don’t have access to the medicine 
and food they need. This is true but sadly also applies to the people of 
Haiti, Yemen, Chad and even many parts of the United States. Yet the 
real question is: What makes one think that the lynchers, racists and 
their apologists are going to bring food and medicine to the people of 

Venezuela has real problems, no doubt. It has been hit by a severe 
economic crisis. Its government is not socialist, so it cannot 
distribute resources evenly through central planning, meaning that rich 
people are the only ones who live completely at ease.

Generally, the government has tried to muddle its way through the 
crisis, getting funds through deals with international corporations and 
distributing large numbers of food bags. This is not a very pretty 
picture, but it is actually considerably better than the practices of 
most governments worldwide.

Most important, the Venezuelan government is not white supremacist, it 
does not employ terror tactics, and it does not lynch people. That is 
where the real red line is, which nobody should cross. We should also 
not let the media, the US government, or any important international 
institution cross it. And we should criticize the hell out of them when 
they do.

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