The Chavistas Who Toppled Columbus: Venezuela’s Fight Against Colonialism

Source:  TeleSUR
October 11 2017

the chavistas who toppled columbusVenezuelan demonstrators use ropes to take down a Christopher Columbus
statue in Caracas, Venezuela, October 12, 2004. | Photo: Reuters

Long before the statues were taken down in the U.S., social movements in Venezuela removed all monuments from Caracas.

Five centuries ago, Christopher Columbus embarked on his third voyage of conquest, planting the flag of Spain in the Paria Peninsula — now present-day Venezuela — on August 1, 1498

After 506 years, on October 12, 2004 — the Day of Indigenous Resistance, previously marked in Columbus’ honor — the Italian colonizer was “brought to trial” in the streets of the country where he first landed.

RELATED: Anti-Columbus Protests Sweep the Americas
On that day, a 9-meter high statue of Columbus, in downtown Caracas, was toppled from where it had stood for decades.

 

Mock trial of Columbus

Several social movements held a mock trial and “prosecuted” Columbus, declared him “guilty”, demolished his stone incarnate, bathed it in red paint and dragged it to the nearby Teresa Carreno Theater, where it was hung.

Long before activists would take to doing the same to Columbus statues in the United States, their counterparts in Caracas had set the stage: by 2009, every monument dedicated to the conqueror in the Venezuelan capital had been removed.

It was in 2004 that the late socialist President and leader of the Bolivarian Revolution, Hugo Chavez, changed October 12 from the day that celebrated Columbus and the history of colonialism, to the Day of Indigenous Resistance.

It was in reaction to this move that social movements in the city took to topple the statue.

“There was a very strong revolutionary spirit in Venezuela at that time,” Katrina Kozarek, a reporter at Venezuela Analysis, who along with Cooperativa Calle Y Media created a documentary about the event, told teleSUR.

“People wanted concrete action, not just symbolic,” she added.

Cooperativa Calle Y Media’s film, titled, “Down With Colonialism: Pachamama Libre”

Still, the action held tremendous significance for many.

“It was an act of symbolic justice,”  Angel Montiel, a member of the Organization of Indigenous Youth of Venezuela said at the time. “It represented invasion and genocide in our land.”

Soon after the statue’s destruction, hundreds of Indigenous people and their allies took to the streets to sing and dance to commemorate the act of resistance, chanting “Justice for the people, justice for the people!”

Protesters had drawn parallels between Columbus and then-U.S. president George W. Bush, calling on both to “get out” of Venezuela.

On that day, Indigenous groups also presented a formal request to the city’s mayor to have the decimated statue replaced with that of the Indigenous chief Guaicaipuro — who five centuries ago had led the resistance against Spanish colonialism — a promise that was fulfilled in 2015 under President Nicolas Maduro.

nicolas maduro 2017.jpg

Police, however, who at that time were “very much a reactionary force, still in the hands of the opposition”, explained Kozarek, responded by spraying tear gas at the crowd. Five people were also arrested for taking part.

In response to the arrests, a statement released by the 90 people who claimed responsibility for the act, declared, “We respond by saying that accusations of vandalism, wherever they come from, we reject them absolutely.”

chavistas topple columbus' statue.jpgProtesters prepare to topple the statue.
| Photo: courtesy of Katrina Kozarek

“We are absolutely proud of what we have done, since it is finally destroyed … one of the strongest symbols of what has been the genocidal, exploitative, dehumanizing, deconstructive and truly vandalic exercise of all the imperialisms that have plagued this planet of misery,” it continued. “And in particular the processes of conquest and extermination of more than 70 million human beings … and the death of more than 30 million original inhabitants of Africa, brought as slaves, from the day that this Spanish ‘national hero’ put his boots on these lands.”

Chavez’s response

Still, it was also Chavez who initially rejected the act as one of “anarchy”.

The Venezuelan leader’s main concern at the time, however, explained Kozarek, was “reaction from the opposition”, who supported keeping statues of Columbus.

“The country was just coming out of the coup d’etat,” she explained, adding that the Bolivarian government had viewed the toppling as a surprising, risky act given the response it could have incited from the opposition, following their attempts to oust the government in 2002.

Later, Chavez would come out to approve the action, praising it and calling Columbus “genocidal.”

hugo chavez 1.jpgThe leader of the country’s Bolivarian revolution had always repudiated Columbus, having also called the figure “genocidal” in the past.

“They taught us to admire Christopher Columbus,” Chavez later said in a 2007 televised address. “In Europe, they still speak of the ‘discovery’ of America and want us to celebrate the day.”

That year, the Venezuelan leader revised the nation’s education curriculum to emphasize that the Spanish conquest of the country was destructive, rather than heroic.

Indigenous rights and the Constituent Assembly

The Bolivarian Constitution of 1999 recognized, for the first time ever in the country’s history, the Indigenous population’s right to exist, its languages, cultures, and territories.

With Venezuela’s current National Constituent Assembly, ANC, process underway — which Maduro called to bring the country towards dialogue, in the face of U.S.-backed violence and threats of foreign intervention — Indigenous people are again putting their demands forward.

RELATED:  Social Media Blasts Racist ‘Columbus Day’ in Favor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day

In July of this year, 1250 different community assemblies elected eight Indigenous representatives to the Assembly, who were tasked with gathering input from their communities in the redrafting of the Constitution.

The main objectives for the Indigenous candidates will be to create an Indigenous Electoral Registration Law and improve access to education. They will also be tasked with preserving and disseminating their respective languages, histories and cultural heritage.

“The spirit of what happened (to the Columbus statue) and the spirit of what is happening now with the Constituent Assembly is similar,” said Kozarek.

“Popular movements emphasize that the revolution cannot be just rhetoric,” she added. “People have placed faith in the Constituent Assembly process, (optimistic) that this will not happen.”

So Long Columbus – Latin Americas Sticks to Its Roots and Celebrates Indigenous Resistance

Source:  TeleSUR
October 11 2017

so long columbus 1Choco, home to large Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities, is
currently the poorest department in the country. Some 65.9 percent of Choco’s population now live below the poverty line, according to Colombia Reports
Photo AFP.

In the recent years, the world has seen massive protests against the commemoration of Christopher Columbus day on October 9 with many nations replacing it with a celebration of Indigenous communities.

RELATEDTrinidad Joins World Protests Against Columbus Day, Statue Defaced

The ongoing demonstrations denouce the fifteenth century explorer as the man responsible for decimating the first peoples of the Americas.

Indigenous communities make up about 13 percent of the total population in Latin America in countries including Bolivia, Guatemala, Mexico, Ecuador and Brazil.

Continental Conference on Five Hundred Years of Indigenous Resistance

In 1990, Ecuador hosted the first ever Continental Conference on Five Hundred Years of Indigenous Resistance that was attended by nearly 400 people from 120 Indian Nations, International organizations, and a historic Declaration of Quito was signed.

“Genocide and ethnocide have been committed against us Indian people by European invaders in the name of “God, civilization and democracy” the statement said.

“The Indians of America have never abandoned our constant struggle against the conditions of oppression, discrimination and exploitation which were imposed upon us as a result of the European invasion of our ancestral territories,” it added.

The days of Indigenous resistance now recognized

Apart from Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua are the other Latin American countries that have officially recognized the days of Indigenous resistance under different names.

For example, Bolivia’s first Indigenous president, Evo Morales, changed the day’s name to “Day of Mourning for the Misery, Diseases and Hunger Brought by the European Invasion of America.”

While Ecuador’s former President Rafael Correa initiated a “Day of Inter-culturality and Pluri-nationality.”

Argentina named it as the “Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity.” Nicaragua and Venezuela on the other hand adopted the day as “The Day of Indigenous Resistance.”

“Our struggle is not a mere conjunctural reflection of the memory of 500 years of oppression which the invaders, in complicity with the “democratic” governments of our countries, want to turn into events of jubilation and celebration,” the 1990 Quito Declaration said.

“Our Indian People, Nations and Nationalities are basing our struggle on our identity, which shall lead us to true liberation. We are responding aggressively, and-commit ourselves to reject this “celebration,” it added.

RELATEDOctober 12: Day of Indigenous Resistance

Many cities in the U.S. have also ditched Columbus day for a celebration of Native American culture and life.

Columbus Day replaced with Indigenous Peoples’ Day

52 cities across the country have now replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Inspired by the Quito Declaration, one of the first cities to make the move was Berkeley, California.

Others include Amherst, Northampton in Massachusetts,  Los Angeles, San Fernando, Santa Cruz in California, San Antonio, Texas; Albuquerque, N.M.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Lawrence, Kansas.; Boulder, Colorado, Portland and Seattle.

Palestine Thanks Latin America for Solidarity with Gaza

chile protest in support of palestineProtesters throughout Latin America protested against the Israeli atrocities against Gaza. In the photo, a demonstration a few weeks ago in Chile. (Photo: Reuters)

Source:  TeleSUR

Palestinian officials recognized that Latin American countries were the first to condemn the Israeli onslaught against Gaza.

The Palestinian National Council (PNC), which is the legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Wednesday thanked Latin America for its solidarity with the people of Gaza and its condemnation of the seven-week Israeli massacre  in the enclave.

An inheritance of patriots like Jose Marti and Simon Bolivar

marti y bolivarDuring a PNC meeting, the Palestinian leaders said the solidarity of Latin America with Palestinians “is an inheritance of patriots like Jose Marti and Simon Bolivar.”

The legislators also made a contrasting comparison between the strong condemnation by Latin American and Caribbean governments of the Israeli attacks, with the support of U.S., Europe and their allies to the government of Tel Aviv.

They also recognized the fact that Latin Americans launched a shout of protest against Israel while other nations opened up their military warehouses to replenish the Tel Aviv  regime with the weapons it used in the bloody attacks against Gaza.

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Fidel Castro: True Friendship

Source:  Granma International

by Fidel Castro

Yesterday I received a visit from the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, who made a trip abroad related to the defense of his country’s important oil interests.

fidel y maduroDuring his stop in Cuba, he took the opportunity to make contact with me and greet me personally, as he had promised, on August 13 of this year, when I had the privilege of reaching 88 years of age. That day he presented me with some fruits, among them, some small pearl like ones, which I had never even seen before and which taste excellent. He also presented me with a sports uniform, a gift from the Venezuelan athletes seeking to win laurels for their country.

I was extraordinarily happy that he made the visit so soon, not only for the honor which his presence and quick action imply, when he is involved in the difficult task of carrying out the epic struggle of Hugo Chavez, as well as the exceptional actions he is carrying out.

Who governs who?

Our world is experiencing an extraordinary and unique moment and every day the number of people who are conscious of this increases. Among the events being experienced, one of the most dramatic is the genocide being carried out in the Gaza Strip, where 1.8 million human beings live trapped between the desert, the sea and the military power of a Middle Eastern country, where the most powerful empire which has ever existed has created – over more than half a century, and at a cost, according to some estimates, of almost 100 billion dollars – a sophisticated and at the same time irresponsible, military nuclear power. Many people wonder: Who governs who, does the United States govern Israel, or Israel the United States?

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Fidel Castro: Palestinian Holocaust in Gaza

fidel its timeto learnI again request that Granma not use the front page for these relatively brief lines about the genocide of Palestinians being committed.

I am writing them rapidly, to state only that which requires deep reflection.

I think that a new, repugnant form of fascism is emerging with notable strength, at this time in human history when more that seven billion inhabitants are struggling for their survival.

None of these circumstances have anything to do with the creation of the Roman Empire, around 2,400 years ago, or with the U.S. empire which, in this region only 200 years ago, was described by Simón Bolívar who exclaimed, “…the United States appears to be destined by providence to plague America with misery in the name of liberty.”

England was the first true colonial power to use its dominion over a large part of Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, North America, and many Caribbean islands, in the first half of the 20th century.

A just idea in the depth of a cave

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War Criminals Gather to Honor War Criminal

Source: informationclearinghouse.info

Paying Tribute To A Genocidaire

By Prof. Francis A. Boyle

time magazine the claughter of palestiniansJanuary 13, 2014 “Information Clearing House –

The United Nations General Assembly condemned the 1982 Massacre at Sabra and Shatilla as “genocide.” So what the world is witnessing now are innumerable government leaders, politicians, pundits, professors, intellectuals, media figures and the State of Israel pay formal tribute to a genocidaire–one who has committed genocide. Obviously, in their opinion the slogan “Never again!” does not apply to protect the Palestinians.

Professor Francis A. Boyle is an international law expert and served as Legal Advisor to the Palestine Liberation Organization and Yasser Arafat on the 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence

Watch video at: Paying Tribute To A Genocidaire

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Network of Intellectuals Condemn Impending Attack on Syria

Source:  1804 CaribVoices Weekly
The Network of intellectuals, artists and social activists “In Defense of Humanity”, calls on all honest men and women of this world to condemn the impending attack on Syria. 

nowar on syriaWe appeal especially to those who do not accept a world ruled by the law of the jungle, where the right of non-intervention in the internal affairs of nations is trampled upon, where the mass killing of innocent people has become a television show with pretexts manufactured by the hegemonic media machine without genuine evidence to justify war.

As  early as June of last year a lucid message was circulated by the Network from our Continue reading