Friday, September 29, 2006

Delicate civil rights issues: Rosales and gays

Milagros Socorro today warns Manuel Rosales of future trouble by criticizing him delicately but sternly on some unhappy declarations he had last Sunday on the Televen TV show of Carlos Croes. In short: Rosales declared that homosexual unions were "aberantes" (they are an aberration).

Carlos Croes is a rather wily journalist that has floated along with any regime and who oversaw the quiet alignment of Televen on the regime after the Recall Election of 2004. Well, alignment might be too strong a word as the nightly news are not afraid to criticize the regime, but Televen used to host the two flagship talk shows of the opposition, Marta Colomina and Cesar Miguel Rondon, and both were shown the exit door while state paid for advertising climbed at Televen.

As Milagros Socorro points out Carlos Croes was right in bringing such question which is a burning issue in many civilized countries. But I do think that the question might not have been appropriate for this campaign as here we are battling the survival of democracy. Gay unions? Well, who cares about them when Chavez becomes president for life?

Indeed, having spent numerous blog posts describing the insensitivity of Chavez and chavismo to homosexuality, feminism, anti Semitism and even racism, I cannot allow Rosales to go home free on that one. I could take solace by saying that no matter what I would vote Rosales because 1) Chavez has an established record of homophobe, misogynist, anti semite, etc.. so there is no way that after 8 years he will change no matter what pious statement to that effect he might be inclined to make lately and 2) at least with Rosales I know that he will replaced in no more than 8 years and that a new president could be bold enough to establish gay unions in Venezuela, or at least undo moralistic execesses of a Rosales presidency (1).

But as Milagros points out such line of reasoning (she uses a different one than my two points) are not the issue, the issue is that a candidate that is usually well informed, with a good reply to almost anything, and whose campaign motto is “a president for 28 million of Venezuelans” cannot afford to alienate any constituency. Indeed, it is not a matter of calling gay people aberrant: there should be at least 5% of them in Venezuela and Rosales cannot afford to cross them out. But it goes further, he forgets about some of the relatives and friends that could more sympathetic than he is. Or even, as Milagros points out at the end, Rosales cannot ignore the increasing HIV population in Venezuela, victim in large part of internalized machismo (and homophobia). In fact Milagros has the felicitous phrase:

al muy pesado régimen del machismo del que todos somos cómplices

(The heavy regime of machismo of which we are all accomplices.)

Indeed, we are all too much accomplices of letting machismo rule our lives even if we deeply resent it. For this we are paying with the most machista president of our history who uses alleged social programs to establish the most unipersonal rule we have had in Venezuela since early XX century.

Rosales has to watch out not too look like a moral conservative throwback. He might have the excuse of provincialism (and like Chavez comes from a provincial background where real men rules and sissy men were ridiculed or disposed off or forced to leave fro Caracas). But he does not have the excuse of Chavez who bases his power on primitive machismo for his uncouth hardcore bases. When I read today (quite a karmic coincidence) that one of the mayors of Zulia state has decided to force prayer, Christian prayer that is, in public schools, I can start to be worried. This attitude is not any better than chavismo forcing the apparition in schools of the Che cult, though less disgusting than an unkempt assassin as a role model.

Rosales must base his campaign in part on including ALL minorities even if they are an utter aberration for him. Rosales must show that he is not an uncouth soldier as Chavez is. He must rise above the true political aberration that Chavez is when he brings back Venezuela to the XIX century. Otherwise liberals and libertarians like me might not abandon him but might not try to find him votes, and some might just stay home on election day.

Now I understand that Rosales has a considerable female staff in all the positions he has directed. I hope that this will help him clear up his mind of prejudice as soon as possible. Some guy that is clearly much more feminist than Chavez is probably just lacking the information required, not the ability to learn. Thus I am hopeful for better Rosales understanding in the future. I am not a one issue voter and I am not asking Rosales to focus his campaign on gay rights, differently able issues, women’s rights or racial minority rights. But once you look down on one group you look down on all, which is exactly what has happened with Chavez.

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1) Chavismo has been shown to exhibit the occasional incomprehensible prudishness, such as banning on occasion pirated videos of porn movies. Apparently pirate movies and copyrights infringements are OK as long as they are not on porn.

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