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 rightwing 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 mobilizations, 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, Mr. 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 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 nation “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 ANC in their 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 sixteen 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 recognized 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, Mr. 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.