– Charlie Kleinfeld, PJC Racial Justice Intern
Minutes after the Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself the legitimate president of Venezuela, the Trump administration announced their official backing of him. The events of the past week appear to be yet another example of the United States intervening in a Latin American country, pushing, along with other western nations, for regime change in the region.
To the average reader in the United States, the situation in Venezuela appears to be dire; images of empty grocery stores and mass protests met with violent pushback from the police fill the media, selling the idea of intervention to American citizens. The current president, Nicolás Maduro, is portrayed as a ruthless, unaccountable dictator who must be overthrown. The rhetoric pushed by the Trump administration appears to mirror the rhetoric pushed by the Bush administration prior to the invasion of Iraq, as well as the images pushed by Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon during the Vietnam war. As the situation develops, military intervention in Venezuela appears to become increasingly likely.
FAIR, an advocacy group calling for fairness and accuracy in reporting, has harshly condemned Western media outlets on their portrayal of the crisis in Venezuela.
It’s important to cut through this rhetoric and look at the situation in Venezuela from a perspective unclouded by U.S. interests. Although many Venezuelans living in the United States claim to talk on behalf of the general mood of Venezuela, it’s important to listen to working-class Venezuelans living on the ground, experiencing the current crisis first-hand.
As the racial justice intern at the Peace and Justice Center, I feel it’s important to highlight the racial aspect of the crisis in Venezuela. People of colour make up a significant portion of the Chavista wing of Venezuelan society, and this fact has led antigovernment protests to take on a racial edge. Last year, a black Venezuelan was burned alive while having racial slurs thrown at them in an obvious racist attack.
Regardless of your views on Maduro, it’s important to both have a well-informed opinion based on facts, as well as hold a strong, principled position against military aggression under any circumstance.
Read more information on the issue here.