article appeared in the Venezuela and Chavez Watch page of Trinicenter.com.
month, for the first time in history, Venezuelan people of African
descent have total control of their historic Black university, the
Instituto Universitario Barlovento. They are already planning a
university administered hotel and a restaurant for students, faculty
and the community. This is an achievement of a lifetime, and the
people of Barlovento gather around their seat of higher learning
to reflect on their success.
topic on their minds and hearts is the fate of President Hugo Chavez.
He is Venezuela's first multiracial president and is called "Negro"
(nigger) by his detractors because of his African-Indigenous features.
Behind the enemies of Venezuela and Hugo Chavez are very large sums
of money being spent to destroy the dreams of the people who historically
have been discriminated against because of race, economic ideas,
dreams of the African Venezuelan people may be deferred if the United
States replaces Chavez with a rightwing businessman as president.
Currently, three Blacks are state governors elected by the people;
the secretary of education is Black; two Indigenous Venezuelans
are congresspersons elected directly by the people; Indigenous Venezuelans
have the complete right to claim their historic lands; land is protected
and available to Black and Indigenous Venezuelan farmers so that
they can now engage in farming for the first time
in generations; and Venezuelans of African descent are participating
in conferences against racism around the world and establishing
strategic relationships with international organizations. They have
attended Congressional Black Caucus conferences in 2000, 2001 and
2002; the pre-conference against racism in Chile in 2000; and the
United Nations World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South
Africa, in 2001. The African Venezuelan community in Barlovento
also hosted the Second International Reunion of the African Latin
Family in 1999.
percent of the population of Venezuela are people of African descent.
The others are Mestizos of Indigenous and European descent and Indigenous.
The support of the people of African descent in the United States
is one of the most strategic factors in helping the people of African
descent survive and prosper in Venezuela.
Hugo Chavez was elected in a democratic election with more than
70 percent of the 11 million votes cast. One of his first actions
was to call for an election of a National Constituency Assembly
whose mission was to reform the 1969 national Constitution. During
40 years of democracy this Constitution was used to avoid empowering
the people. The election of the National Constituency Assembly allowed
the participation of students, business related organizations, community
representatives and parties opposed to the president in the Assembly.
The entire society had its opportunity in the Assembly.
National Constituency Assembly designed a new national constitution,
which was widely discussed all around the country. Then a national
election was called to consider the acceptance of the new constitution.
The Venezuelan people, in direct election, said, "We do accept
the new constitution" in 1999. New national elections were
called at all levels of government to test the acceptance of the
new constitution and renegotiate the public powers. President Hugo
Chavez, again, won the election with over one million votes more
than his closest opponent. The party supporting Chavez also won,
as did several state governors who belonged to the party.
his three years in power - the complete term is six years - President
Chavez has been an advocate for the education of the poor. After
50 years of being eliminated, schoolswere created with full schedules
from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., allowing children to stay longer in recreational
programs and special classes.
before have small businesses flourished with the full support of
the government at the local and national levels. Chavez has opened
the doors for the participation of those who have long been excluded.
President Chavez came to power, 80 percent of the population lived
below poverty. Overcoming this difficult obstacle requires a joint
effort at all levels of society. Unfortunately, the support has
not echoed in the upper economic brackets of Venezuelan society.
What have they done? Organizing a coup is not the way to support
is the fourth largest oil producer in the world and the second largest
oil exporter to the United States. President Chavez has never threatened
the export of oil to the U.S. He has visited the U.S. about five
times, holding meetings with businesspersons, seeking to stimulate
foreign investment in Venezuela in order to raise the level of employment
and mitigate the conditions of the poor.
the sectors of society wanting to reverse these important advances
decided to violate Venezuelan democracy. A group of renegade military
generals formed a coalition with
"businessmen" - land owners whose ancestors stole it from
Indigenous Venezuelans and used enslaved African labor to build
the Venezuelan economy and society.
members of the press also belong to the business establishment.
Three main private TV stations led a campaign against the evolution
of democratic change in the same style Hitler used against the Jews:
"Say a lie a thousand times and everybody will believe it as
forces formed a coup to destroy freedom in Venezuela. For three
days they controlled the government and instituted practices not
seen in Venezuela since the '50s, during the days of the military
rulers. Venezuelans in their 60s were astonished to see such violations
of civil rights.
of the coup imprisoned President Chavez, isolating him from any
public contact, lying about a presidential resignation, dissolving
all legitimate national powers at all levels. Then they started
hunting down the legitimate members of Congress and of the president's
cabinet. Even the Supreme Court was forced to resign. They did all
that in a period of three days. Further, they derogated the 1999
response, however, people of all races and backgrounds took to the
streets, the military bases and public buildings to liberate President
Chavez. He is in control again.
watched with deep concern how Ari Fleisher, Bush's press secretary,
and Condoleezza Rice, Bush's defense advisor - a Black woman - avoided
calling the coup against President Chavez what it really was: a
vulgar, right wing coup against a democratic government. Both have
used vague rhetoric to criticize Chavez' administration rather than
condemn the coup. The Bush administration in general looked with
sympathy at the coup and issued no declaration condemning it.
New York Times also has presented the facts in a less than objective
way. Rather than going into the countryside to talk with the people,
Times reporters appear to have visited only the Caracas suburbs
to assess public opinion. Furthermore, the local media consider
only the opinions of wealthy people. All other opinions are considered
unworthy. So, if you are poor or if you are not in agreement with
the media, then you are not considered a part of the public opinion.
Senator Christopher Dodd has expressed dismay over the Bush administration's
behavior regarding the situation in Venezuela. His position is an
example of goodwill and is appreciated by Venezuelans.
an international effort to destroy the public image of President
Chavez. Let us briefly analyze it.
Hugo Chavez has visited Iraq, Iran and Libya. Because he is a
friend of those nations, he is branded an enemy of the United
States. Venezuela and the countries visited by President Chavez
are members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries
(OPEC). Together with these countries, Venezuela regulates oil
prices and must agree with them on strategies for maintaining
profitability while at the same time making prices affordable
to the oil importing countries such as the U.S. With 60 percent
of its national budget based on oil income, clearly Venezuela
must talk with members of OPEC. This doesn't make Venezuela a
partner in terrorism as has been insinuated by the U.S. and the
Hugo Chavez is a friend of Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro.
It is insinuated that he is therefore an enemy of the U.S. Venezuela
is a free and self-determining nation in its business relations
with Cuba. It has a right to have business relations with China
or any other country.
It is said that Hugo Chavez didn't condemn the attacks on the
World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, and is therefore an enemy
of the U.S. But President Chavez most certainly did condemn the
Sept. 11 attacks and said, just as France and Russia and the Pope
did, that he doesn't support a heavy and indiscriminate attack
against Afghanistan which might cause civilian casualties. The
Bush administration considers neither the presidents of France
and Russia nor the Pope as enemies of the U.S. and is not willing
to plan and finance a coup against those leaders because they
express humanitarian points of view.
President Chavez is said to be a supporter of the Colombian guerrillas
and is therefore involved in terrorism. The truth is that President
Chavez has condemned terrorism in Colombia. Furthermore, the Venezuelan
government under his administration has been a mediator in peace
talks between the guerrillas and the Colombian government.
The people of the U.S. should think deeply about U.S. support
of the failed coup and its leaders and its plans to change the
regime in Venezuela. The result of President Chavez' trip to oil
exporting countries was agreement on a solid oil price. In Venezuela,
the price of oil is extremely important for education, health
care and public services generally. The first declaration of the
leaders of the failed coup was the abandonment of the quota system,
which caused oil prices to drop.
note: Africans and people of African descent are beginning to tell
our own story. Most other people have no vested interest in telling
the truth about us. Professor Correa of Barloyento University is
an African Venezuelan, and he tells the story of the achievements
of African Venezuelans, the United States' participation in the
failed attempt to overthrow President Chavez, and the certain reversal
of the social, economic, cultural and psychological gains to African
Venezuelans if President Chavez is overthrown. He pleads with us
discuss in open forums, churches and community organizations the
U.S. attacks on Venezuela and the conditions there, and
write letters to the U.S. Congress asking that the U.S. respect
the Venezuelan government and follow the rule of law and international
treaties in dealing with Venezuela.
and Chavez Watch page, Trinicenter.com