Yes, here

51

Ten years ago, Leo had dreadlocks. My first question when I met him was “How the hell do you keep them from smelling bad?”

“With patience and dedication, pal” he answered. The few times we hung out together, he struck me as a man who wasn’t easily intimidated and also someone who could kick your ass quite elegantly. He’s 1.78m with a wide nose, brown eyes and a well-cared-for skin with several tattoos attesting to his personal philosophy and job: he’s a musician.

Skeptical, he dressed to kill: well-ironed shirt, fashionable trousers with shoes fit for an English spy. Leo was aware that the place they were going was known for refusing entry to people who were badly dressed or who “looked poor”, or who otherwise broke away from the monochrome monotony. However, his friend knew the bouncers and talked to them so they’d let Leo in.Leo has the charisma required to get women’s attention. Oscar D’León and Franklin Virgüez can’t light a candle to what this singer does for the opposite sex to consider him such a good catch. Precisely because of his cunning, he didn’t refuse to go with a friend to a nightclub in Las Mercedes as a sort of wingman; his buddy asked him to go with him to test the waters with some girls that were waiting for them. “It’s just that scoring girls is too easy with you,” that’s the motto for the entourage around Leo.

When the staff noticed he was alone, the bouncers were quick to act.

Once they cleared that first obstacle, the night was all compliments, beers and phone numbers. At some point, Leo’s friend took off to go get some action. When the staff noticed he was alone, the bouncers were quick to act. They took him by the arm, moved the people away and threw him out of the place.

“Why are you doing this?” Leo asked.

“Because you don’t belong here. Because you’re black.”

He was understandably furious, especially because the two bouncers were as black as night themselves. Yes, these curators of race are “afrodescendientes,” as the Bolivarian Revolution calls them.

“I got a lot of support when I posted this story on social media. However, I decided not to push te envelope too much because some friends told me that the nightclub’s owners were thinking of coming after me if their place was shut down,” said Leo.

But still, a few nights after the incident, some of his friends decided to stage a protest before the nightclub. Mobile phones in hand and thanks to the power of the interconnected world, they broadcasted live as they berated the bouncers for not letting black people in.

One kept saying not to touch him. The other, more hostile, told them to stop recording unless they “wanted to get in trouble.”

I decided to look into this nightclub’s story and a source who chose to remain anonymous —bless that journalistic trick— told me the owner, a Ukrainian dude, had two other places shut down in the past due to illegal activity. Despite this, he’s well connected with certain people in the government, and he always gets the permits he needs. Apparently, his policy is that if you want to get into his parties, you gotta have a lot of money, the right cars and toys, and a skin tone he finds suitable.

A study, published by The Washington Post in 2013 ranked our tierra de gracia as South America’s most racist country.

Leo moved on. He didn’t let the incident get him down. But these situations signal an issue that’s the Venezuelan social equivalent of sweeping dust under the carpet: in this case, homebrewed racism. A study, published by The Washington Post in 2013, with data compiled by Max Fisher and collected by the World Values Survey, ranked our tierra de gracia as South America’s most racist country. Fisher reasons that this is due to unequal distribution of wealth which has distorted ethnic perceptions. You know, what we see in the media: dark-skinned and poor language are synonyms of bad and criminal.

In the survey, performed in over eighty countries, citizens were asked the following question: Who wouldn’t you want as your neighbor? Answers focused on skin color and social status.

There are also cases in this bountiful nation where a European name and being too white can result in bizarre experiences. Such is the case of Anacaona Gutiérrez, who went to the offices of the Housing Ministry in Las Mercedes to get registered when the government first started their population census for the Misión Vivienda. Once in line she felt like a communist in Miami; by the looks she got, she was keenly aware that she was the only blonde in the place. It’s as if they were saying “What is this one doing here?”

When it was her turn, the person in charge of receiving her documents asked her if she was Venezuelan. “Of course. I was born in the Concepción Palacios maternity hospital” Ana replied. “And where’s your mom from?” “She’s Spanish, but she’s been living here for the past ten years. She’s as Venezuelan as an arepa,” Ana retorted, her patience running low. She was then accused of being an opportunist seeking to profit from the benefits that president Chávez had given to the poor and those in need. She was told to buy her own house in La Lagunita, “where whiteys like you live” and that she would be thrown out by security if she didn’t leave.

There are also cases in this bountiful nation where a European name and being too white can result in bizarre experiences.

Ana was actually thrown out by security, but it was because she slapped the Venezuelan SS woman who pulled this on her. It didn’t matter that her cédula screamed Venezuelan in big letters; only skin color and social status were important in that institution: if you weren’t black and poor, you had no right to a house. See, racism doesn’t discriminate: we can all suffer from it at some point.

Take Sandra’s case, for instance. Her mom arrived in Venezuela from Ecuador 41 years ago. She was seven when she set foot in Caracas for the first time. She adopted the Ávila as part of her life and arepas as the only food blessed by God. What Sandra didn’t know is that her appearance would cause her disheartening experiences.

“I remember I had a Literature teacher in high school who told me that I had to speak right, not with that horrible accent people in Ecuador have. That she’d fail me if I didn’t learn to speak like a Venezuelan,” says Sandra, who is 45 years old now. She also has stories of how someone once screamed at her on the street “cotorra, go back to your cage!”, and how some well-dressed professors at the university told her to quit studying Law because “it wasn’t appropriate for a foreigner to graduate” in Venezuela.

“Your skin gradually thickens against life’s stupidity. I knew lots of people who saw me as a weirdo, but also the vast majority of people who stood by me. Venezuela still has a lot to learn about racism.”

We seem to be reticent to learn, though. For example, you can do a quick search among the dozens of Facebook groups called. “Venezolanos en —insert any country here—”. The first comments you’ll read from nationals of those countries is that Venezuelans are “lazy”, “incompetent” and we “don’t want to work to improve our own country.” Venezuelans are mistreated abroad too, and those experiences build up to a victim mentality: “woe be onto us, nobody likes us.”

There’s a name for that: poetic justice.

51 COMMENTS

  1. I wonder about the readers here who have dated someone with significantly darker or significantly lighter skin. The much celebrated good fun about peoples’ differences is not as pervasive as one would hope. Unfortunately Venezuela is not the exception that way. I look at the face of the opposition leadership and I think: surely that is not a coincidence. And it strikes me as being a real problem.

    • Well, I haven’t because I don’t find it attractive. That doesn’t make me racist though.
      I like “morenas” claras, average white and even pale, not black. Doesn’t do it for me.
      I have nothing against befriending them… so using the dating argument on this is not productive.

      • Your comment is exactly what I was hoping to illustrate. While you might think it all comes down to your personal preferences, these categories you have indicated (i.e. “morenas claras”, which is a new one for me), are inherited from a racist system where white people would reproduce if necessary within their own family before having a child, within marriage, with a darker skinned person. That prejudice continues to this day. What you said is not in fact a coincidence or mere chance. It is a preference that has repeated itself for generations, based on a system of racially based categories used for domination.

        The dating argument gets to the heart of the issue because it points to the old racist rules and norms around finding a mate and reproducing. And it gets to the heart of the issue because it is the inescapable reality of pairing up for love when some people start to make comments relating to skin colour that might otherwise be surprising.

      • You my friend… are in fact, a racist. Sorry to break the news for you. The argument the “black doesn’t do it for you” is pure racism… let me explain… Loving or liking a person comes for who they are, not for how they look. If how they look is what you see, and specially if they look darker, my friend, you are, in fact, a racist.

    • This happens in other supposedly non-racist LatAm countries too. When I was in college in Brazil I dated a black girl for four years. Whenever we hung out with her friends -all blacks- I was made fun of and discriminated against, as in “what the hell is this ebony beauty doing with a whitey” kind of shit. They used demeaning nicknames to refer to me. I didn’t give a shit. My skin grew thicker and I just hang in there.

      And Latinos pretend to teach Americans about racism. This is why I laugh when they gloat about how we are just a peace-loving melting pot in Latin America. Gimme a break…

      • You didn’t give a shit because you did not experience negative impacts because of your skin colour (it didn’t prevent you from getting into clubs, getting a job interview, getting a promotion, getting stopped for questioning, dating whoever you wanted to, etc.). You weren’t actually being discriminated against.

  2. Same thing happened to my parents -and me- in Venezuela many times. They arrived years before Perez Jimenez was thrown out, became citizens and lived there all their lives up until a few years ago when they left for good. One of their most valued possessions were the original Gaceta Oficiales where their naturalization were made official, not because some sort of pride in the date it happened, but because it was always needed for whatever legal reason. Legally they were “nacionalizados” you know, not real ones. Don’t get me wrong, they ARE proud Venezuelans they know the immense debt they -we- have to the country, everything we are and have is Venezuelan. The last time my mom had to listen to this nonsense was at Maiquetia when one GNB lady asked her how long had she lived in Venezuela, her answer: He vivido en Venezuela desde antes de que naciera tu madre.

  3. The topic of race and Venezuela has been in my heads since a while ago, but it has acquired alarming proportion since the Trump phenomenon came to be. Trump’s rhetoric, picked up on this anti “political – correctness” movement in social media that, apparently, is very strong in Venezuela. In Venezuela! perhaps the least “politically correct” place in the western world! How can people be so opposed to something they have barely experienced? Then the image of the galactic mortadela comes to my head, his personal brand of social justice, his leftist rhetoric, all this add up to a toxic mix that ends up equating comments against racism(in the post mortadela galactica era), as being from the left or “progre”. I’ve seen universities professor, and other people who create opinion on the Venezuelan web, advocating against the revision of our race issues using its “exclusive” connection to the left, as an excuse to deny its relevance.

  4. Question from an outsider, is the Chavista/opposition political divide largely along racial lines. I had imagined it was more along economic lines but maybe they are the same. Sorry for the interruption?

    • I could write to you an entire essay about this topic. But, to be honest, I have seen people from all races (call them white, black, latino, etc) support both Chavismo and Oposición.
      The fact is, most leaders from the Venezuelan Oposition are white, because they come from middle/high class backgrounds (even though there are some exceptions) and most Chavismo leaders are ethnically mixed, because they took pride in talking about how mixed class was the root of our people and all that non-sense. And because they got their leaders based on charisma and not on qualifications to be a politician, that suits them well.

  5. The thing about racism against darker skinned people in this country is not that that it doesnt exist (because to some degree it does) but that for the most part it is so rare or tame that you could spend your whole life in this country and never witness any stark example of its existence. I spent long years working in large transnational companies and among the board members and managers there was normally a significant representation of dark skinned people , moreover never was it a factor in the companies otherwise very rigorous hiring practices ….!! Don’t doubt that it does exist but it is not as ubiquitous and pronounced as you see in other places….!!

    However there is even among people with darker skin a kind of reverse rascism that prizes the blonde looks of people in their family or entourage ….., they even take pride in having a relative who is blonde ….., having olive or dark skinned is not seen as bad or contemptible just as something ordinary but having blondish looks is something that normally draws favourable attention from others !!

    My wife is kind of blondish and blue eyed and she gets constant compliments from other women about how pretty her blue eyes are (I happen to agree but Im personally prejudiced) , she can get instant smiles and nice treatment almost from anybody, I suspect just because of her blondish looks …….I tend to think that in most places in Venezuela being dark skinned isn’t that much of a problem but that being blonde is a kind of privilege …….!!

    Of course if you go deep into the resent filled ranks of some Chavista bureaucracy having a ‘white’ look can get people to discriminate against you, but if you look at the racial traits of most heavy weight chavistas youll notice an abundance (perhaps a preponderance) of European looking people !! goes to show what a mixed up people we are …!!

    • People sometimes take pride in their light skinned/haired babies, because society, historically controlled by light skinned people, deems them more attractive and worthy of respect. Being blonde is, quite literally, an indicator of privilege.

      The history of colour lines in the Americas is very interesting, and shows a definite correlation between status and skin colour, even to this day. Light skinned people who can trace their descendants back to the colonial period will see a lot of inter-familial breeding going on during that time, because there were at that time limited white mates, and mixing with a non-white would entail a loss of social status for the child. The effects continue to this day. And as any visitor to Cuba will know, they continue to shape who is “in” and who is “out” regardless of ideology.

      I’d like to think things have changed a lot with the post-civil rights generations, but then I see today a new resurgence of overt racism and sexism under the guise of combatting “political correctness”, or under the guise of “plain talk”. In turn, I think the internet has to some extent encouraged this because people with a warped view of the world can now more easily find like-minded people who share the same prejudices and hate.

    • Bill,
      In what country do you live?
      I do not know how many times I have heard of white people talking about the ‘monos’ and no, they were not referring to people behaving like apes but to dark poor people. I have walked twice in a street where redadas were taking place and copes registered everywhere but me and somewhere else, who are whiter than the average.
      I do not know how many times I have seen special treatment to me and people whiter than me.
      I do not know how many racist jokes I have heard in Venezuela because oh they are just jokes and really only people who are so cool about skin colour can make such jokes…they say.
      There is, pf course, racism from all parts to all parts but at this stage to say racism in Venezuela is mild is incredibly disingenous.

      Sorry, I used to think Venezuelans were particularly non racist until I was like…11? Maybe 12. It is amazing some grownups, particularly white, still think that is the case.

      • I can’t agree with you, nor will I accept your argument that Venezuela have a strong case of racism. I feel like you and many others on this post want to see racism when there is none, like the author of this so called article, who thinks is a rico suave casanova, who is better singer than Oscar De Leon, that seems to be happy that Venezuelans abroad (the white ones) are being mistreated.

        You wanna know what I see, I see people with a inferiority complex, that wants to blame others for their shortcoming in order to feel good with themselves.

        There are so many holes in his story, that any objective observer would flag this as pure BS.

        • You might be mistaking “objectivity” for “sharing your worldview”.

          Additionally, you might think your opinion here is strong, informed, well-thought-out and, as you seem to characterise, ‘objective’, but it is none of those things. When you just blame the people for issues instead of respecting the possibility of issues, you willingly remove any legs on which you may have been purporting to stand.

          And nowhere did the author say to be happy that Venezuelans are being mistreated – just pointed out how ironic that some Venezuelans are happy to discriminate and mistreat people and make nothing of it, and then they moan online for perceived slights or difficulties when they move abroad. That is a far cry from being happy about people being mistreated (and a far cry from proof of said mistreatment).

          • Read the piece one more time and tell me honestly if anyone will believe in it. Anecdotes from some random stranger on internet hardly makes the whole premise truthful. That is a fact.

            And yes, his rant about poetic justice, also an stereotype about Venezuelans btw, implies that he at least happy about the “slight” problems that Venezuelans abroad could face or are facing.

            Anyway, I doubt that majority of Venezuelans living abroad are constantly moaning on internet.

            Everyone seems to forget, at least for the Venezuelans on this blog, that if you got the dirty look somewhere in the world, even in Venezuela, is most likely that you are doing something that you are not supposed to, and instead of owning up to the situation, you blame others in order to feel good with yourselves. Like this fella here.

            Venezuela have 99 problems, racism ain’t one of them.

          • Jctt, you’re reading what you want into it. You might want to practice some reflexive and critical thought, some questioning of your own assumptions.
            Based on your comments to the author (elsewhere in Spanish), I can see you don’t have a habit of doing that. Defending your position by calling it ‘the truth’ is quite grand, and also quite narrow minded and misinformed. Finding a particular accent displeasing does not give you the right to mock it or tell people to change it to please your sensitive ears.

            From on your opinions, it appears I should retract my own voiced ones on insecurity in Venezuela, however – nice to know my mugging-less experience is *the* truth, everyone shall be greatly relieved.

  6. Great post. I always sneer whenever I hear someone saying “there’s no racism in Venezuela, we can call someone “negrito” and it’s not meant to be offensive”.

    Right, and all of those billboards along the highway with Camila Canabal and Maite Delgado -so representative of the average Venezuelan phenotype- trying to sell stuff to people mean absolutely nothing at all.

  7. Racism in Venezuela exists. We always say “We are not racists” only because racism was not legitimized by law as it was in the United States or South Africa. We never had “colored only” water fountains, but we have mastered the art of discriminating through little and constant daily indignities. It is not by chance that people of darker skin happen to represent most of the poor in Venezuela.

    Remember Billo’s?

    Yo soy un negrito Ay…!!!
    Ay…!!! fino, pero muy fino
    Con mucha ciricuntancia
    Y como no tengo arrogancia,
    A mí me tratan como un cochino…​
    Guardia no lo deje entrar,
    Guardia porque es un ladrón…

    Y por ahí sigue….

  8. I’m what you called a mestizo, with a clear mestizo phenotype, and I never had any problems or racist comments towards me on any club in Caracas.

    I call this article total BS, My first clue, “It’s just that scoring girls is too easy with you,”. My second clue, you were let in. Nobody refused you at the door.

    if you got thrown out of a club is because you did something that the owner didn’t liked, i.e. being a douchy and hitting on any girl like a creep. Turns out that this kind of suave rico creep abounds in many Venezuelan clubs, and they are bad for business, they scare the patrons away, specially girls, who only cares about meeting interesting people and having fun.

    You thing you are such a catch don’t you? you think any girl should fall on your feet. Oscar De Leon have nothing on you? Well, apparently you are not!

    Stop being a creep and you’ll be fine.

    • Why is your assumption that because the man in the first story was a bit of a ‘casanova’ stereotype, the rest of the story must be made up? Also what about the other two? Also what about the possibility that things may happen to people even when they don’t happen to you – I was never personally a victim of crime in Venezuela while I lived there for 24 years and any of the times I have been back, does that mean I get to deny the existence of rampant crime in Venezuela?

      • One part of the story is made up or half sided, ergo the whole piece gets discredited. simple as that.

        And the Ecuadorian accent? maybe the accent of the person in question doesn’t sound good. Have you thought about that?

        BTW is common for many people in the world to criticize the language spoken in other regions of the world. British often trash American english or Australian english, The French trash the Canadian French, that’s hardly a racist at all.

        We make fun of the Colombian accent, the Argentine, we voice our displeasure when we hear half assed Spanish accent even within Venezuela!

        That’s why I insist that people are seeing racism when there is none.

        • Jctt, usualmente no hago esto, pero aquí va (y en español). Primero, que digas que la historia, o parte de ella, es “inventada” o “prioritaria de un solo lado”, es una aventura que no puedes probar. En cambio, yo si puedo demostrar que todo lo que he escrito es verídico. Punto por punto. Segundo, lo del “acento ecuatoriano”, y lo confieso, le pasó a mi mamá. Sólo que no coloqué eso para no personalizar la historia (mi historia). Entonces, si bien es cierto, que tu percepción del racismo en Venezuela es muy tuya. También es muy cierto que es un problema verdadero y COMPROBABLE en nuestro país. El hecho que tú nunca hayas pasado por una situación así, no lo hace invisible. Saludos.

          • Para empezar, tus anécdota no son evidencias, mas cuando vienen cargados de mucha parcialidad política.

            Aunque te duela que te digan la verdad, yo veo muy difícil que puedas probar algo, dado que ya no tienes credibilidad alguna al montar esta historia para desacreditar a Venezuela, por no querer admitir tus propios errores o no querer tomar responsabilidad de la consecuencia de tus propios actos, y es algo que es verídico y se aplica para muchos Venezolanos y Venezolanas.

            De tu historia, dices que un negro le dice a otro negro. Valgame dios!, jamas de los jamaces! yo dudo que alguien pueda creer eso. Si el dueño, según tu de Ucrania, fuera racista, jamas habría contratado a nadie que fuera negro para echar negros de su club. Si te dejaron entrar y te botaron, algo hiciste, punto. Al menos echa el cuento como es y como realmente pasó.

            Pero bueno, dices tu tenemos que creer en tus palabras y aceptar todas tus contradicciones.

            Mi percepción del racismo sobre Venezuela no es solo mía, es la de muchos, y no es que estoy tratando de negar que haya racismo, pero lo que si te puedo decir, es que he notado que la gente que tratan de montar la matriz de opinión que hay racismo en Venezuela, tienen un profundo sesgo político.

            Y así es como realmente se ve el articulo, totalmente parcializado, con muchas contradicciones. No en serio, yo compartí esta historia con una amiga Canadiense, y lo primero que noto son esas contradicciones tuyas, que te las enumeré anteriormente.

            Pero lo que si te puedo decir, tu no sabes nada de racismo, o al menos crees saber de ello. Fíjate en el comentario de Bill Bass, que dice, puede que haya racismo, si acaso, pero no se compara en nada con lo que hay afuera de Venezuela.

            Y como dije anteriormente, la gente trata de ver racismo donde realmente no es. Yo lo veo mas como un problema de resentimiento, y una falta de voluntad y coraje para tomar responsabilidades que cada quien tiene que asumir.

            Saludos

          • De todos modos no me negaría a observar esas pruebas para demostrar tus puntos, y cambiar mi perspectiva sobre el racismo en Venezuela.

            Mi conjetura es, de haber existido esas pruebas, me pregunto porque no fueron publicados al mismo tiempo que el articulo.

        • ¿Honestamente? ¿Parcialidad política? ¿”Me duele que me digan la verdad”? Hermano, no vale la pena conversar con usted. Por personas como tú, es que Venezuela está como está. Vaya y viva su burbuja. Saludos.

          • como duele la verdad… El que se pica es porque ají come.

            Y dale con el cuento trillado de Venezuela está como está.

            Estos cuentos como los tuyos son los mismísimos cuentos que Chavez uso para meterle resentimiento a la población Venezolana, y dividirnos. Y el hecho que tu sigas usando esa misma táctica indica que TU eres parte del problema.

            Es la verdadera tragedia nacional, el país esta lleno de personas resentidas, estos que creyeron en estos cuentos del racismo, del clasismo y demás bazofias que los izquierdistas vomitan a diestra y siniestra, son los mismos que votaron por Chavez, y por eso, es que Venezuela está como está.

  9. political correctness has definitely made racism worse, I would way everywhere, including Venezuela. PC has made racism against the majority acceptable, leading to a generalized feeling of victimization. In Canada right now if one writes “racism ag..” into Google’s search box, the suggested competions are (in this order):

    against whites
    against asians
    against white people
    against black
    against first nations

    This cannot be good.

  10. Really great and important article. If I do have a nitpick (And it´s relly just a nipick) is that painting a white person as a victim of racism feels odd to me. I know it`s my left-wing bias talking but I do agree with people that believe that prejudice against white people by people of color is not “technichally” racism, because racism has its roots in old structures of power. Just as when a poor person doesn´t want to hang out with a rich person is been discriminatory, but not “classist” exactly because a poor person is not really “privileged” in that scenario. Of course this is based in the reality of countries in Europe and the US, so I´m not sure the same applies in Venezuela. And of course, it`s just a technical definition, the type of political discrimination with wich those goverment officials attecked that women is absolutely wrong and unacceptable.

    And yes, I always knew that Venezuela, although it doesn´t have the same history of racial tensions of countries like the US or South Africe, it definitively has racism. I never personally felt a victim of it, but my brother has had some incidents. I´ve seen white people use “mono” as an insult against darker-skinned people. And of course, the way Maduro used the colombians as scape goats for his own incompetence speaks for itself.

  11. Racism is a human universal , historical and cultural factors make us not only see different racial phenotypes as inferior or suspect but also as superior and likeable , we are the creatures of culture and respond to culturally conditioned stereotypes in an unthinking and spontaneous way, even if they are not politically correct .

    Venezuelans are of course humans so they are to a certain degree racist , looks are important to people , they can make others like or dislike you …..but in countries like venezuela racism tends to be less obnoxious and rooted than in most other countries , I have friends ( blonde blue eyed men) who are infatuated by african looking girls …..and African looking fellows who are infatuated by ladies who are blond or blondish ……is that racist? ….you bet it is !! but its different from the racism you find in other places where people feel spontaneous disgust at people from a different race so that they can never see them as attractive. If that kind of racism existed in Venezuela we would not be a mestizo country where people from all races have children together and few people can claim to be of pure white , black or indian descent . Most of us have relatives whose features show something of the african or the indian or the european , so in Venezuela if you are a pure racist you would have to hate people you actually love from your own family . Yes racism in Venezuela sometimes shows an ugly face , but for the most part it is quite benevolent and tame.

    So in conclusion Venezuelan racism ( which does exists) is for the most part mild and tame IN COMPARISON to the vitriolic racism you find in other places …….!! and thank God for that..!!

    • “… I have friends ( blonde blue eyed men) who are infatuated by african looking girls …”

      Blonde, blue eyed men have been infatuated with african looking girls at least since the times in the Americas when they owned them as slaves. The mestizo culture you describe is not an endless tale of love blossoming between peoples. It traces its roots back to a system of racially based domination where rape was common, and the fruits of that rape, those children, were accorded a lower social status, marginalized.

      You see evidence of ugly racism on this comment thread. In fact, look at almost any comment thread dealing with Venezuelan current affairs. You see the same thing. Now, internet comment sites I think overselect for extremists, racists, and people who hate women, but they nevertheless illustrate a real phenomenon that is out there, maybe beyond the people many of us choose to spend our time with- when we have choice- , but it is out there, in unmediated form.

      My country has an ugly history of racism that plays itself out today in very concrete forms. I am not saying Venezuela is necessarily any worse than anywhere else. But I respectfully think there is a notion of Venezuela as this place of racial harmony where people just make funny comments about each others’ skin colour, that glosses over another quite prevalent reality. And it takes on many forms. Under Chavez, the regime stoked anti-Semitism that you could observe sprayed on walls in downtown Caracas. And god forbid, the sacking of grocery stores in rural Venezuela has any hint of anti-asian animus behind it (“los chinos” being the notorious cheaters in the minds of many).

      So getting back to the blonde guy who likes african looking girls. He may be just that, although a person who is infatuated with a racial category could maybe benefit from some self reflection. In any event, the blonde guy who is infatuated by african looking girls may also be someone you and I know about, and he may have a nice blonde wife, and blonde kids. He may also have a darker skinned acquaintance who he spends his recreational time with, who does not share the status of that blonde wife, and whose dark skinned child with that blonde guy does not enjoy the status and security of those blonde kids.

      It doesn’t hurt us to think about these things and read articles like this one, by Mr. Diaz, and just be open to the possibility that they show us something we do not fully know or appreciate.

      • Historically speaking the notion that mestizaje was the result of the mass rape of indian and black women by their spanish slave masters , although the height of political correctness (playing to conceits typical of our current culture of glamorized victimhood) is incorrect . Contemporaneous accounts tell a different story, the good friars of that period have left accounts of the ‘scandalous’ way in which Spanish men and indian women went after each other and made frequent ‘debauchery’ their favourite game …..in any event the children from those unions could not be racially typecast in any pure way , much less the children of the children for generations ….., maybe their sex drive was stronger than that of the prim puritans of northern europe …, who can tell……the thing is that the normally ugly face of racism , through the historical phenomena of mass mestizaje often took a different more benign face in the Caribbean ,

        Can a mother or father abhorr their children when they show mixed racial features or the child abhorr its parents because they show racial features different from iitsr own , that would be inhuman and we Venezuelans despite our sometimes morally hoity toity self loathing are humans ….!!

        There was a very virulent form of racism in our colonial past mainly adopted by the Mantuano class , they despised people of ‘inferior race’ and that bred a counterhatred as virulent as that of the Mantuanos against those they despised, When the war of independence broke out and all civilized restraints disspeared and life took a barbarous form …..the Mantuanos who had identified with independence were anhilated almost to the last men , they lost their social influence and Venezuelan culture simply to allow civilization to return adopted a basic equalitarian stance which became inbred in people of all social origins . Tomas Straka one of our most emminent historians has a few lines dedicated to this . We became equalitarian because as a society we couldnt survive if we held on to old racists hatreds..

        So yes racism does exist but with much more moderation than is common in other places and with a lot of exceptions, I cited one instance of a blonde man liking african looking ladies ( indeed he married one) , but there are countless cases Ive seen during my life of people of different racial origins join as couples or cordially live and work together withouth any sign of ugly racism. both among better off people but also among people of humble origins …… !!

        • maybe their sex drive was stronger than that of the prim puritans of northern europe …, who can tell..

          The difference was not in sex drive, but in mates. Puritan Englishmen brought their mates to the New World at a much higher rate than did Spaniards. Spanish males sought the only mates available at the time.

          At the same time, many or most US citizens with ancestors who lived on the frontier have at least one Indian in the family tree. I do. In addition, in post-frontier times, my mother’s two brothers married women who were 1/8 Indian. That is not uncommon in Oklahoma, though Senator Warren, also born and raised in Oklahoma, appears to have misstated her ancestry.

          Thanks for giving evidence to inform us beyond the “hija de la chingada” legend, as it is put in Mexico.

          • You are right in part. In the early colonial period due to a shortage of European mates there was mixing: ‘the only mates available’ . There was consensual mating going on as well. When more European women were available, you had the development of racially based codes around skin color and marriage. It is interesting your observation because it reflects that early period of intermingling.

            You will also find many blacks with european ancestry that dates from the slave period. There was a great deal of forced mixing going on.

            The myth that non whites are more sexually aggressive …well, it is part of a set of stereotypes originating in these old racial codes, and it persists to this day.

          • According to data collected from the Casa de Contratacion in Seville , for every hundred Spaniards crossing to terra firme , 4 were females and 96 were males, so yes there was a big shortage of European females in Venezuela , and thus a big incentive for European males to mate with indian females .

            About the same time the colony of Virginia had a similar problem , too many british males and too few british females , this did not lead to the males intermingling with the local indian females , instead men where abandoning the colony to go back to england . To cope with this problem the Company that run Virginia as a business implemented a plan to bring white English women to the colony , offering to pay all their travel and clothing expenses and grant the men who married them a good sized land lot . The men after courting the ladies offered to marry them and if the lady accepted they had to pay a price in tobacco leafs to compensate the company for the expense of bringing them to Virginia …..!! This story tells you a lot about how the sexual preferences of the English of the time differed from those of the Spanish conquistadors. the English had more discriminating preferences !!

            One exception in the ratio of female to male migrants from Europe were people from the Canary islands ( which were not considered true Spaniards at the time) , in their case the Royal govt insisted that they migrate in batches that included a lot of females ….of course none of them were included in the Mantuano class.

            A poll was taken recently in the US about the sexual preference of people of different races for mating partners of different race , the poll included Whites , Blacks , Asians and Latinos . Generally the most favoured among women were white males, and among males were Asian females , except that Asian males really tended to like latino females !! go figure !!

          • Thank you, by the way, for the “hijo de la chingada” comment.

            When I decided to first try to learn spanish, I went and boarded with a family in Mexico, and shortly after my arrival, the father and his friends sat me down with a jug of local tequila and taught me to conjugate the verb “chingar”, we discussed the history of the “hijo de la chingada”, the phrase “pinche gringo”, and other nuggets of Mexican lore, an experience for which I will forever be grateful.

            On balance, the Spanish Conquest including the areas of the Southern US like New Mexico, was in fact, like Mexicans will tell you over a bottle of tequila, a chingada of world historic proportions. But there are nuances, of course.

            In the area of Mexico where I lived there were unusually large numbers of blue eyed, light haired Mexicans. I was told this was the inheritance of French mercenaries who invaded to collect a debt (or something like that), stayed, and brought with them bakeries that are now so beloved (like the portugese in Venezuela) and put together little groups for their marriages that became the mariachi bands we all know and try to avoid today. I’d be the last person to suggest that this history was all bad news.

            But then, throughout my time in Mexico trying to learn Spanish from telenovelas I would frequently think: why don’t the protagonists I see on television or in commercials or on Televisa news programs look like the Mexicans I see on the street? It was a fantasy world yes, but a very consistent and specific fantasy, where everyone was white except the maid, the driver and the assassin.

            Things are changing, and I see changes in the face of Mexican media and politics even since I lived there. Probably not by coincidence, Mexico has become more democratic, although it still has big problems.

            We need to acknowledge obvious realities about exclusion if things are going to improve. Which brings me back to my other eternal question: why does the leadership of the Venezuelan opposition I see not look like a cross section of the Venezuela I know (which yes, can be tolerant and inclusive)? And I wonder sometimes if that issue is half the problem.

        • Alguna vez leíste Los amos del valle? En esa novela hay un personaje que está casado con una mujer blanca (frígida, ultracatólica), y que tiene al mismo tiempo constante relaciones con las esclavas (hasta el punto de dudar en algunos casos de sii está cometiendo incesto!); eventualmente, obliga a su esposa frígida ultracatólica a tener sexo y ella queda embarazada. En principio, el personaje quiere al niño, su hijo,pero cuando se da cuenta de que éste tiene el cabello lacio, y de que su esposa, por eso, no era blanca pura, lo odia completamente, lo desprecia. A mí ese fragmento de la novela, por la forma como está escrito, siempre me hizo gracia, me pareció cómico,a pesar de que era terrible, brutal.
          Venezuela tiene una cultura racista, comprensible si se estudia el sistema colonial. Que ese racismo se manifieste de ciertas maneras y no de otras, no niega su existencia. Es necesario aceptarlo, porque fue esa misma cultura racista la que engendró muchos de nuestros peores problemas, incluyendo por supuesto nuestro problema actual, el chavismo.

  12. It appears to me that no one has ever asked Venezuelans to be self-critical about their racism.

    The government thinks nothing of announcing that “Asiaticos” had better stop gouging their customers; and we know how they talk about “Zionists”. At the same time, opposition social media sometimes show Aristubulo as a monkey. Chinese people have their speech represented with all Rs changed to Ls. Apparently, there is no need to be sensitive, because caricatures thought to be so funny.

    When I bring here things to their attention, people deny it. “He really WAS acting like a monkey!” “They do gouge us!”

    It has to change.

  13. I call a yuuuge “bullshit” on this one. The video says it all, with the “victim’s” friend calling the bouncer “negro”, “racista” and “payaso”. If your incredibly charming friend was expelled, it was because something he did, not for the color of his skin. Get over your crush.

  14. I do believe there’s some racism in Venezuela but Argentina and Chile are way worse than we are.

    We tend to have a lot of prejudice but the majority of Venezuelan have been mixing for so many generations (whites, Indians, and blacks) that only a minority can say they are specifically from somewhere.

    I would like to see an study that shows that Blacks are paid less than whites in Venezuela. This to me is the real measurement of racism.

  15. El racismo en Venezuela ha permanecido desde la época colonial, existe una gran cantidad de gente racista porque como el ser un malandro, nunca ningún gobierno se preocupó por condenarlo socialmente, así que la gente pensó que era un comportamiento aceptable.

    Además, ¿Cómo no esperar que a la gente se le pegue el racismo si es una de las pocas cosas que le martillan a los carajitos en las clases de historia de Venezuela durante la mitad de su aprendizaje?

    Sumado a eso, tal vez podrían haber influido estereotipos reforzados por películas y novelas si nos vamos al territorio de los gorros de papel aluminio.

    Ahora se ha exacerbado mucho más pues por obvias razones políticas, como los chavistas

    En fin, el racismo siempre me ha parecido muy estúpido en Venezuela, principalmente porque es un país cuya población en más del 80% es mestiza, pero que igual tiene una concentración enorme de hipócritas sin remedio.

  16. All I know is that as a NATURAL pale blonde/whitest skin possible/ pale bright green eyes, I have NEVER had as many guys in CONSTANT despair, needing observation, after me as when I lived there. Scorn the light-eyed and -haired all you want. Your envy is showy.

    • “Scorn the light-eyed and -haired all you want.”

      The point of the article is that it becomes a problem when racism is turned into an official policy.

  17. Poetic Justice is right! If the shoe fits as they say, but is the discrimination malicious here in Venezuela in a way that hurts people? Venezuelans have always called it like they see it, sin pelos en la lengua as they say here. If you are fat they call you gordo if you are skinny they call you flaco if you have even a trace of fair features, they call you “catire”. You call a fat woman fat where I come from and she will probably knock you the fuck out. Or at the very least make a big enough scandal that you would never repeat the mistake. I remember being horrified the first time I saw a commercial with Venezuelans dressed up as Chinese people and imitating their typical accent. Something you would not see where I was born as you would have the entire Chinese population coming down on you Maybe the chinese people here are so used to it they stay quiet, or know that it wouldn’t do them any good to speak up anyway. It’s more of a classism problem here. People are prejudiced toward you if they perceive you to be of a lower class. In a barrio you see mostly dark skinned people, afro decedents who never climbed out of poverty and probably wouldn’t even be living in poverty if they were still living in the jungle as native people. Different values. Not the first times the native indians didn’t fit into the European cultural design, North America is full of Native indian reserves with an abundance of cultural adjustment issues as well.
    I married a very dark woman everyone called la negra and her mother was even darker. I remember hearing people comment that she was from a good family and that her father was a land owner and they weren’t “those kinds of negros” I’m with another very dark skinned woman now (go figure another case of opposite attracting) positively hates negros and associates them with being dirty and poor. Also very proud of the fact that she has fine features and not “ordinarias como una negra del barrio.” A bit of a chicken head I know for thinking like that, also daughter of the daughter of some wealthy land owner a military man who did a favour for some president way back and was awarded land for being loyal and taught that they were better then everyone else who didn’t have land. Typical Venezuelan story, latinos want to be perceived as up and above their stature. There is a distain for being simple and just living a simple existence. Everyone wants to be a “milli”
    But I stray, yes its wrong when someone in a position of authority flagrantly tells you they are kicking you out of the bar for being black. Its also very scary (and wrong) that the lady got discriminated for being blond they assumed she had money and was taking advantage of the system. But there is a lot more of that now since Chavez. The “have nots” have a hate on for the “haves”, but again that’s classism. Steal if you are hungry, its ok. How come he has so much and I have nothing, that’s wrong. Anyway most poor people I know are so noble they wouldn’t steal even if they were hungry, its better to beg and get welfare then steal. The ones that are stealing are the crack heads and that is a whole different ball of wax!

Leave a Reply