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Venezuelan 'Counter-Revolution' Is 'Shamelessly Racist'

The title is “Miko Mandante”, meaning “Ape Commander” to mock the affectionate title “Mi Comandante” used  by masses of Venezuelan people.
The title is “Miko Mandante”, meaning “Ape Commander” to mock the affectionate title “Mi Comandante” used
by masses of Venezuelan people.


For sheer racist hatred, the young Venezuelan “protesters” championed by the U.S. government and corporate media could rival that found in the Ku Klux Klan or any other of the white supremacist formations that pepper U.S. history. “Racism is one of the main engines and expression of the counter-revolution.”


In Venezuela, nearly all the wealthy and bourgeois people are phenotypically European, while nearly all those in poverty who live in the countryside or shacks on the sides of hills in the city are Black and Brown.

By Arlene Eisen
It’s late morning in Caracas. February 12. From the restaurant inside the hotel around the corner from Plaza Venezuela we can hear chanting, but it’s too muffled to understand. Are they yelling “Maduro Salida” or “Maduro/burro Salida”[1] or something else? From the window, we can see people, almost all smiling white people, streaming down the street to join the first huge anti-government demonstration that signaled the onset of the current outrages in Venezuela.

Olga, the restaurant’s manager, has tan skin, died blond hair and brown eyes. She is one of the 42% of Venezuelans who self-identified as white in the latest Census.[2] From behind the counter, she usually greets people without a smile. She barks orders to the Indigenous woman in the kitchen. Today she is laughing as she glances at a cartoon in one of Caracas’ many virulently anti-government newspapers. I ask her if there are any interesting stories in the paper. She shrugs but the question unleashes a tirade about how she hates Chavismo.

ldquo;Why?” I try to sound neutral.

Olga explains that Chavismo has brought the “riff raff, brutes, thugs and criminals into the city.” She is emphatic. “Caracas is now flooded with uncultured animals who make life miserable for civilized people.” She concludes, “Afterall, look at the crime, the insecurity, the murders!” It’s likely that Olga is one of the many Venezuelans influenced by cartoons like this one by Kiko Rodriguez. It is one of the more repulsive depictions of Chavez that not only expresses time-worn racist contempt for people of African descent, but it also foments fear and hatred.

The title is “Miko Mandante”, meaning “Ape Commander” to mock the affectionate title “Mi Comandante” used by masses of Venezuelan people.

During her rant, Olga never mentioned the race of Venezuela’s poor, or the extreme poor, who in 2003 were 30% of the population and by 2011 were only 6.8%.[4] Chavismo’s accomplishments, especially in reducing poverty, are significant because of the near total correlation between class and race in Venezuela. That is, nearly all the wealthy and bourgeois people are phenotypically European, while nearly all those in poverty who live in the countryside or shacks on the sides of hills in the city are Black and Brown. Demonization, animalization and criminalization of people of African and Indigenous descent are themes both deeply embedded and flagrantly visible in the culture and institutions of Venezuelan society. White supremacy endures in Venezuela often resembling the United States and other settler colonial countries founded on conquest and slavery. [5]

Revolution against Racism

While the roots of white supremacy run deep, the Bolivarian Revolution has seriously improved the lives of Venezuela’s majority—who are people of color. [6] Unlike the days of Venezuela’s dictatorships who served Standard Oil and the U.S. State Department, since 2001, voter registration is 97%. An array of legal tools—including Land Reform, a new Constitution written by a Constituent Assembly, the Organic Law Against Racial Discrimination—chip away at discrimination and promote mass participation in government, and in the various communes, councils, collectives and cooperatives. These are the structures of peoples’ power—including some 30,000 communal councils[7]--designed to ensure that once-marginalized people become the protagonists of their futures and nurture their dignity.

A significant share of the country’s patrimony, income from oil, is no longer siphoned off to the U.S. or to the old white Venezuelan elite. Between 1997 and 2011 the portion of Venezuela’s wealth going to the richest 20% decreased from 53% to 44%[8]-- a statistic that indicates more about the elite’s loss of power than impoverishment. At the end of 2013, the Guardian reported that the poverty rate had dropped by 20% , the largest decline in poverty in the Americas for 2012, and one of the largest in the world.[9] Oil revenues pay for new homes for the poor, schools where every primary student gets a free laptop, new universities with open admission, health clinics, and jobs. It also funds programs against domestic violence and transgenic seeds and a host of other campaigns for social justice.

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