Venezuela on fire, but where are the ones who profited?

Venezuela is currently as I write this in the midst of deadly political protest and repression from a number of actors. There are civilian opposition protesters, civilian Chávista protesters (loyalists to Maduro) as well as the police (GNB), the military, and los colectivos, government funded paramilitaries.

It’s nasty, it is ugly, gut-wrenching stuff to watch. I may go into detail in another blog post about what exactly is happening and why for Australian readers, but for now I want to focus on one detail that has left me beyond indignant of the whole situation.

Earlier this year I made the decision to change the direction of my thesis from guerrilla masculinity to looking at how the notion of el pueblo, the people, is constructed by Venezuelan Chavistas. I did this for two reasons, firstly because the situation in Venezuela has deteriorated and is only accelerating towards famine, but also because I want to know and understand my country at this highly political and philosophical level as well.

And the first thing that hit me, and with complete shock, was Western Academia’s fascination and love for Chavez. I mean, I always knew that leftists had a misguided hard on for el Comandante, but I didn’t think it extended to intellectual dishonesty.

Western academics love the late president Hugo Chavez, and that love extends to his heir Nicolas Maduro. It seems almost nonsensical, but academics are somehow the most blind of all the groups who write on Venezuela. They tow the party line with such dedication, you’d suspect they were actually paid by the government to write what they do…

In one of the world’s most respected academic journals, Latin American Perspectives, I read article after article from American, Australian, Austrian, and Italian writers about Western media being in cahoots to topple the revolution. About how the “far right fascists” of Venezuela’s “student elites” were ready to oust the president in a dramatic coup d’état given the chance. That they would somehow undo all the very “feminist” policies they have, drive the indigenous into ever greater peril and sell the nation’s resources to the “Empire in the North”, the United States of America.

As though Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro didn’t do exactly fucking that already, to not just the USA but China as well.

But what personally offended me most of all was the sheer love that they would write about los colectivos.

Two writers in particular, George Ciccariello-Maher and Cristobal Valencia (the latter of whom was sacked from the University of New Mexico after allegations of sexual misconduct with students) write about the colectivos with such romance, you’d imagined them as burly guerrilla fighters akin to Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. Rough but just men who “protect” the working-class members of Caracas’ most dangerous barrios against gangs, drug dealers and the unlawful police.

A lie so romantically told you wish it were actually true.

Instead the night has been full of videos all over twitter of los colectivos doing what they have always done, riding around on motorcycles, terrorising the previously only middle class opposition with government funded weaponry. Reports of their murders are all over and people actively fear them for the organised paramilitary narcotrafficking criminals that they are.

But where then is the admonishment and denouncement of all of this from Ciccarriello-Maher and the misogynist Valencia?

These two American men made their careers off the books that they wrote romanticising the Venezuelan left (which is a misnomer, the “left” of Venezuela is sidelined, bureaucratised, and castrated, Venezuela is ruled by a narcotrafficking kleptocracy) but now when its heavy-handed repression is out and the country is on fire, they’re silent.

Silent, when the nation that you profited off burns with fury and stale tear gas. Your contributions served the same function as the tear gas the GNB throws at the people in the street, to obfuscate and confuse the situation.

Your exploitation of the suffering of the Venezuelan people made your fucking careers, and your silence is only proof of your cowardly intellectual dishonesty.

 

No mas dictadura.
Saúlito out.

Mem Fox’s apology from the US should be news only because of the hypocrisy it highlights

When I travel to the USA, it is always the same deal. The moment they see on my passport “Place of Birth: Caracas” it must sound a dog whistle somewhere because suddenly “Sir, you have been selected for a random search.”

Cool.

They take out my luggage, pass over it with some ridiculous bomb search device. Open up any boxes with gifts or electronics. Ask me ridiculous questions like “have you used drugs in the last 48 hours?” or other charming things, like the last time I was there “so what’s with the tight pants and hair?”

Cool.

This is part and parcel of being a person of colour and travelling to the United States. Interviews, dumb questions, luggage searches. It happens, every, single, time.

So when today I read the furore around Mem Fox’s admittedly horrendous experience with immigration during Trump’s Muslim travel ban, I knew what was up. When I read that she received an actual apology I was furious.

Reading the comments from the ABC News post to Facebook just about gave me an aneurysm, a sea of white people calling out at the way that the US had treated their national treasure.

What in the world? THIS is what you are mad about? A white woman, of extraordinary privilege, SO privileged she receives an official apology was treated poorly? What about all the Muslims and Latinxs who are rightfully attempting to enter being detained and questioned with the same abuse and harassment, on a daily basis?

Where is my god damn apology? Apologise to me! Apologise to people of colour!

Every white person’s response to seeing this article should have been “that is terrible, but this happens everyday to people of colour, and worse.”

Mem Fox received just a taste of what it is like for people of colour to travel, and she has every right to feel how she does. But the rest of you need to get the hell over it and recognise, that if the USA is willing to apologise to a white woman for how they treated her, it’s because they recognise that the practice is horrible to experience, but they don’t care if they put entire nationalities and ethnicities through that very practice on a daily basis.

Get it together white people – check your privilege.

How to be an ally

Being a good ally is not obvious. Maybe you’re a guy and you’re interested in feminism, or perhaps you are white and you are outraged by all the casual racism you see in your day to day and you want to help. This is amazing and this is good, but there is a lot of political etiquette that you need to be aware of.

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Cultural fetishisation in Australia

Latin Americans are exotic in Australia. We do not carry racial stigma the same way that being Latinx in North America does, and because there are so few of us, we do not congregate in insular enclaves of Spanish-speaking communities like certain area codes of Miami or Los Angeles tend to.

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Boko Haram: Misogyny Militarised

The processes of radicalisation have understandably been at the forefront of much literature surrounding terrorism. This critical literature review is written to interrogate two prominent “macro” level theories of radicalisation. This is done by outlining the theories of Martha Crenshaw and Ehud Spriznak. They will be applied to a case study of northern Nigeria’s terrorist insurgency group, Boko Haram, and problematized by the theories of violence and ideology from Slavoj Žižek and Marx’s theory of historical materialism. The application of Crenshaw’s/Spriznak’s theory suggests that both are applicable and helpful in understanding Boko Haram but do little in explaining its chosen methods. Without an application of critical theory to Boko Haram’s methods, Crenshaw’s and Spriznak’s theories fail to account for Boko Haram’s frighteningly militant misogyny.

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The Intersection of Disability and Masculinity in International Relations

Disability through injuries is a consequence of war for both combatants and non-combatants. In particular the gender lens is fundamental to understanding the lived experience of people with disabilities. This essay seeks to answer the question of how masculinity intersects with (dis)ability in ‘post conflict’ situations.

My thesis is that masculinity and the sense of being emasculated forms a central concern for men who are disabled and that the state must consider gender in the forms of welfare it seeks to provide for the disabled.

I will do this in three parts with the first stating the theory used and definitions of terms. I will then look at two case studies, Turkey and Uganda before providing my thoughts on potential solutions to some of the problems encountered by men in both communities.

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Women Warriors of America Latina

Abstract

From 1970 to 1999 leftist guerrilla groups proliferated throughout America Latina engaging in “New Wars” of decentralised violence that differed from traditional forms of warfare. This essay seeks to investigate how, if at all, traditional gender roles have been disrupted during and after these conflicts. Using Standpoint Feminist theory to track the experiences of women in the recruitment, duration and aftermath of the conflict, attention will be brought to how gender is and has been constructed within these contexts, specifically in El Salvador where high rates of female participation translated into the greatest opportunity for significant disruption. The findings suggest that while guerrillas present a significant disruption to traditional gender roles, this disruption is largely forgotten post-conflict, yet there is the potential for greater female political representation to be integrated into post-conflict governance.

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