Race differentiation in Venezuela.

June 22, 2005

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 C ©. 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”.

Jorge Arena.

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