Desmond Tutu reminded: 'Stand with Venezuela's right, you choose the side of the oppressor'

By Lucas Koerner

June 16, 2015 --, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In an op-ed published in the Spanish daily El Pais, titled "Free the Prisoners of Conscience in Venezuela", the renowned South African Archbishop and anti-apartheid militant Desmond Tutu foresakes neutrality in order to unabashedly take the side of the oppressor, namely the United States and the Venezuelan right wing.

Given the wildly distorted image of Venezuela projected by the international corporate media, Tutu's position is, though extremely disheartening, not altogether surprising. Nonetheless, one would have expected the Archbishop to know better than to uncritically parrot the usual mantra of omissions and mystifications that have long become standard fare in any mainstream discussion of Venezuela.  

Tutu begins by reciting the hegemonic narrative of last year's opposition protests, which he alleges were brutally repressed. Tutu blames the Venezuelan government for the deaths of 43 people, making no mention of the fact that half of the dead were government supporters and security personnel killed directly or indirectly by far-right demonstrators.  

The archbishop conveniently passes over the numerous instances of right-wing violence in which "protesters" caused millions in public property damage, hung wires across streets to behead Chavista motorcyclists, as well as set up street barricades that prevented ambulances from attending to emergency victims who subsequently died as a result

Nor does Tutu include in his narrative the fact that demonstrators were not making democratic demands on a "corrupt" and repressive" government -- which incidentally had just triumphed in municipal elections hailed by the Right to be a "plebiscite" on President Nicolas Maduro -- but calling for its "exit" despite its undeniable constitutional legitimacy. 

In a grossly twisted analogy, Tutu goes on to compare the jailed ultra-right leaders of these violent anti-government mobilisations, Leopoldo Lopez and Daniel Ceballos, to Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi as if Lopez -- the white, Harvard-educated son of Venezuela's oligarchic Mendoza family -- has anything in common with these heroic black and brown revolutionaries who gave their lives in the struggle against colonial and apartheid regimes.  

In an equally egregious abuse of history, Tutu then compares Venezuela to apartheid South Africa, underscoring the need for the "international community" to put pressure on the Bolivarian government just like it did in the case of the white supremacist regime. In endorsing "action" by the "international community, which as Noam Chomsky notes is code for "US intervention", Tutu legitimates Washington's latest acts of imperialist aggression against Venezuela that include imposing new sanctions as well as branding the socialist country "a national security threat"

However, the real "international community", namely the states and multilateral institutions representing the majority of world's population, has already spoken. Just as global civil society and a coalition of Third World nations rallied behind the African National Congress in its struggle against the Washington-backed apartheid regime, today this same coalition has in fact stood up in solidarity with Venezuela against US aggression, with a plethora of multilateral blocs raising their voices in support, including the CELAC, UNASUR, the Non-Aligned Movement, and the G77+China

This solidarity is neither casual nor coincidental. Over the last 16 years, the Bolivarian Revolution -- which has seen Venezuela's poor indigenous and Afro-descendent majority take power for the first time in five centuries -- has demonstrated to the world's exploited and oppressed that another world is indeed possible. 

In daring to challenge the global contours of this inherently colonial capitalist system, Venezuelans have recognised as comrades-in-arms their sister peoples of the global South -- from South Africans to Palestinians -- as well as made themselves known to their enemies.  

From the briefly successful 2002 coup featuring Lopez and other leading opposition figures to this past February's thwarted "Blue Coup" attempt, the US and its oligarchic junior partners have unceasingly attempted to overthrow the Bolivarian government and vanquish the "threat of a good example" that it poses. This should of course come as no surprise to Archbishop Tutu who has seen first hand the role played by the "imperial godfather" in defending South African apartheid until the very end, as well as continuing to sponsor Israel's genocidal colonial regime today. 

In siding with the Venezuelan right, Tutu has tragically aligned himself with the natural allies of the European settler elites in Tel Aviv and Johannesburg, a reality made all the clearer by the fact that Lopez is being legally represented by one of Canada's foremost Zionist politicians.   

Should he fail to turn his back on the oppressor and embrace the Venezuelan pueblo with revolutionary love, Archbishop Tutu risks -- as he himself never tires of affirming in the cases of South Africa and Palestine -- being on the wrong side of history. 

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