With the death of commentate Hugo Chavez the Venezuelan people must not only mourn the loss of their beloved president but also shoulder the arduous task of picking a new strongman for the country. This is a vitally important task one which no one is taking lightly; in due part to the resurgent right-wing, which will undoubtedly be pushing hard after nearly a decade and a half of radical populist rule. As is to be expected much dirt has already been slung, to this end we see interim president Nicolás Maduro making homophobic comments.
This is troubling not only for the obvious reasons (homophobia) but also due to how the opposition uses such statements to their advantage. Most recently this has been seen during Nicolas derogatory remarks about his opposition’s party. Naturally the opposition has used such remarks to their advantage in order to swing not only the native queer vote but also affect public opinion abroad.
The primary opposition party (Justice First) is headed by candidate Henrique Capriles; a individual who classifies himself as Center-Right. Campaigning as pro-gay and pro-Jewish Capriles has already amassed a strong online following in the imperialist centers. Is this a coincidence? No, it is not.
While Henrique himself has gone on record to saying that Hugo Chavez was his political inspiration this does not mean he seeks to emulate Chavez. As such it is not too hard to see that when taken together with his center-right party Henrique is merely another pretty face for the progressive bourgeoisie. As president he would not propel his predecessor’s initiatives to a revolutionary level; this is part of why he, despite virtually being an unkown prior to this scandal, has sky-rocketed to fame in the recent days: because “progressive” America and the progressive Venezuelan capitalists, are seeking a new approach to restoring their former power and Capriles fits the description perfectly. Much like President Obama he is seeking to instill in the saddened masses a form of left-centered capitalism that will convince people any kind of social-democracy, let along socialism, is not needed.
So it is from this understanding we must conclude that Henrique Capriles is a reactionary.
This does not mean we should condone Nicolas’s comments or that life for queer people in Venezuela would be better under him, but it does mean recognizing that the ascendency of Capriles in the West in such a short time means an effort to turn back the gains of the Bolivarian Revolution is underway.
As with any progressive social-movements in homophobic areas the path for Queers is to work within the most radical political groups available and turn opinion from the inside out while working with the grassroots; it means influencing truly the most revolutionary while rejecting imperialist schemes for domination. Above all it is a sign that the Venezuelan people need not only our well wishes but our solidarity as well.