The Struggle Against Systemic Racism must extend to victims of US Imperialism
On August 11–12 2017, white nationalists and other hate groups held a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville to intimidate and assault minority groups, and allies who dared oppose their racist agenda. One white supremacist drove a car into a crowd of people, killing Heather D. Heyer and injuring others.
Thousands of miles away in Venezuela, the wealthy opposition to President Maduro’s democratically elected government used similar tactics of violence and intimidation against the black, indigenous, and working class Chavismo supporters of the Bolivarian Revolution. These events cannot be viewed in a vacuum; if we desire black liberation, we must also reject the forces mobilizing against black and indigenous peoples in countries like Venezuela. US activists criticize their government for perpetuating white supremacy; however, many of these activists ignore how this ideology is supported via US intervention in the form of political, economic, and even military action against the Global South. To turn a blind eye or support this oppression is hypocrisy at best, and at worst is perpetuation of the structural racism we want to abolish.
Recently, Venezuela has been on the news as conditions have spiraled downwards. The contributing factors have been present since the 1999 Bolivarian Revolution from the counter-revolutionary class. Chavez was elected to end exploitative neoliberal policies benefitting the wealthiest while leaving the poorest Venezuelans in a vicious cycle of poverty. Concurrently, ordinary Venezuelans began to form independent communes that allow workers to control the means of production, self-organize to meet community needs, and participate in politics in a process of radical democracy. While the revolution netted material gains by lowering poverty rates, providing social programs, and increasing educational opportunities, the elites opposed change every step of the way. This was exemplified by the US-supported coup of 2002, attempts to recall Chavez in 2004, and most recently, violent protests.
The opposition to the Bolivarian project is not an ideological monolith; it represents a variety of tactics from working within the democratic framework to militancy. However, the opposition refuses to break with radical factions that engage in violence against Chavistas, the supporters of the Bolivarian Revolution. The opposition receives rhetorical and support from the US government; Hillary Clinton’s leaked emails reveals the role the US played in undermining the Venezuelan government. This support emboldened the opposition to carry out a campaign of terror against civilians, the media, and government officials, a campaign that eerily mirrors the desires and violent efforts of fascists in the United States. The opposition is responsible for attacking a police officer and pulling his teeth out, beating to death a national guardsman, attacking a maternity clinic, burning storehouses full of food then blaming the government for the starvation crisis, and accusing a citizen of being a Chavismo (because he was black and poor), beating him, and eventually killing him by dousing him in gasoline and setting him on fire, just to name some of their terror tactics.
Similarly in the United States, white nationalists organize to create a country with a racial hierarchy. Yet many that condemn racism in the United States support the attempts to destabilize the democracy of Venezuela. The opposition is portrayed as democratic, but their leaders are some of the same leaders in the 2002 coupthat abolished the Supreme Court and National Assembly. They are willing to use violence instead of waiting until October for regional elections and 2018 for the presidential elections scheduled to occur. The opposition claims that they are fighting an authoritarian government; however, according to former president and head of the Carter Center, Jimmy Carter, a NGO dedicated to advancing human rights, Venezuela has one of the best electoral systems in the world. Again, the similarities between an opposition using violence and falsehoods to destroy Venezuela and neo-Nazis using “alternative facts” to degrade the democratic process in the United States are uncanny. How is an opposition dedicated to using violence to not honor the results of a presidential election in Venezuela any different from Trump supporters and other fascists threatening to use weapons to oppose the results of the 2016 election if Hillary Clinton were elected?
If we are serious about fighting for liberation for all black people, how can we ignore the actions and effects of US imperialism throughout the Global South, especially in Syria, occupied Palestine, Libya, Yemen, Iran, and North Korea? If we want to defend our most vulnerable communities against attacks from fascists and Neo-Nazis, we must support vulnerable communities around the world that our taxes go towards destabilizing. Conversely, can we trust our leaders from both parties to effectively face fascism at home, if they are willing to tolerate it abroad? It is time for Americans to abandon a US-centric perspective and extend empathy to victims of fascism both at home and abroad.