Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Bolivarian revolution heads north

Posted by Charles II on February 22, 2007

(Image from the BBC)

From the Beeb:

Indigenous activist Rigoberta Menchu says she will run for president in Guatemala’s elections this September.

Ms Menchu will stand for a coalition of the indigenous party Winaq, which she founded earlier this month, and the left-wing Encounter for Guatemala.

If elected, she will become the first president from Guatemala’s indigenous Maya community.

Rigoberta Menchu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 for her work in defence of indigenous rights.

Only two full-blooded Indians have reached the top levels of government in Latin America: Benito Juarez and Evo Morales. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, of mixed descent, has promoted indigenous rights in the broader reforms he is introducing in what he calls The Bolivarian Revolution. To quote historian William Katz,

Like four-fifths of Venezuelans today, Chavez was born of poor Black and Indian parents. Since the days of Columbus, descendants of the Spanish conquerors have claimed the privilege of governing Latin America. They have effectively barred Indigenous people from high office. Chavez stands as a direct challenge to white domination of South American governments.

Chavez is not only proud of his biracial legacy, but has been using oil revenues to help the poor of all colors improve their education and economic standing…Chavez rules a country where three percent of the population, mostly of white European descent, own 77% of the land. In recent decades millions of hungry peasants have drifted into Caracas and other cities, to live in barrios of cardboard shacks and open sewers. Chavez wants to reverse poverty, provide jobs, provide education and health care, and redistribute vacant lands.

The people running the US, including a lot of nominally centrist or even left-wing people simply don’t get what is going on. Indigenous peoples do not have the same approach to property that Anglos do. Generally, property ownership is respected. But if property is being used in a manner that is destructive to others, the community reclaims it. While right-wingers lump this in with communism, the indigenous approach to property is really the “tyranny of the small town” that Anglos pretend to admire (and to which so many horse operas have been created as chapels of worship).   

With Menchu’s candidacy, the Bolivarian Revolution heads north, out of South America and toward the Pine Ridge Reservation. 

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