Saturday, September 08, 2007

Venezuela: Is President Hugo Chavez - gulp! - gay?


h/t: Dos Manzanas] Well-known Spaniard journalist Luis María Ansón, who used to direct the Spanish-language news agency EFE and also ran ABC, one of Spain's leading newspapers, is ruffling a few feathers with an opinion piece titled "Chavez and homosexuality" that was published yesterday in the opinion pages of Spain's El Mundo (it's only accessible to subscribers but has been put up at the online page of the anti-Chavez Venezuelan newspaper noticias24).

Here is my translation:
"Chávez and homosexuality" by Luis Maria Ansón (El Mundo, Friday, September 8, 2007)

In Venezuela, the great majority of men and women have brown or black-colored eyes; a minority, blue. It is a thing of nature. It would be absurd to discriminate those men or women with blue eyes in regards to their political, social or economic rights. In that great country, the immense majority of men and women are heterosexual; a minority, homosexual. It is a thing of nature. It would be absurd to discriminate politically, socially or economically against gays and lesbians. From the communist tyranny of Castro in Cuba to the satrap dictatorship in Saudi Arabia, there are still many the countries in which homosexuals are denied basic rights.

There should be agreement that, in western democracies, injustice and persecution against the homosexual sector - to a lesser or greater degree – have ended. Today, in nations governed by pluralist democracies, the average citizen accepts the homosexual reality without [engaging in] discrimination, ridicule or humiliation. To call a man a homosexual or a woman a lesbian is no longer an insult but instead, on the contrary, in many cases it strengthens the gay pride.

I say all this so that there is no doubt whatsoever that I am not trying to offend to anyone when I echo what many serious homosexuals affirm through internet regarding the Venezuelan military leader (caudillo). They affirm that he is gay even if he has not stepped out of the closet.

Much like it happens with the Freemasons, who no longer have to hide because no one is persecuting them, homosexuals know that they can leave the closet with no problem. It seems logical that if a president is a Freemason, a Jehovah’s Witness or belongs to Opus Dei, the nation he governs should know it. And also that if a president is gay, his country should have knowledge of this condition.

Several organizations of homosexuals in Venezuela congratulate themselves on the reality of the sexuality they attribute to their military leader who governs them with methods copied, by the way, from orthodox Castro-ism. I neither want to address the question nor leave it aside because I don’t know [the answer]. Now, it does seem to me that the public opinion of the great Hispano-American country has the right to know if what these groups say is true or not. Furthermore an ambassador with a good reputation confirms the same thing without the smallest pejorative intent, since to be gay today in the western democracies is only one more bit of data which is the source of pride for the majority of those affected by it.

Military leader Chávez imitates Castro the tyrant even in the unmeasured length of his speeches. It wouldn’t be a bad thing if he dedicated a few minutes of his uncontrollable verbal-diarrhea to clarify what so many people in his country are saying. This would contribute to make possible in Venezuela what has already been conquered in Spain, Holland, Denmark and other European nations: That heterosexuals are able to work at companies, without making fun or rejecting homosexuals. The problem of Chávez is not, in any case, his sexual condition but a political system that tries to impose and tries to root out any vestige of political freedom. The new military leader has already decided, as Castro has, that his rule will be for life, and – with the help of pro-Castro agents and the western world’s myopia – continues to advance every day the Soviet socialist program that he has decided to impose on Venezuela (Luis Maria Ansón is a member of the Real Spanish Academy).
Obviously some things jump at you immediately: Mr. Ansón, for one thing, is no friend of Fidel Castro, socialism or Communism - or a fan of Chávez.

He also tries to argue that he is not a homophobe either but his words betray him: I wonder, for example, if he would question Chávez' sexual "condition" if Ansón got his desired proof that the Venezuelan president is indeed not gay; in addition, I am glad that he feels that being "affected" by homosexuality is no longer such a biggie now that we have won the right for heterosexuals to stop making fun of us. Ah! Liberation!

OK, I know my gaydar is bad most times but I am pretty certain that Chávez is straight. I also know that there are little bits of truth in this opinion piece: When Chávez found himself in power, some of the right-wing elite that was previously in power spread all sorts of unfounded rumors in attempts to topple him and so did anti-Chávez press outlets. Among the rumors were attacks "on his manhood": How he was surrounded by a cadre of gay advisers and military leaders and how even Chávez might also be gay.

As for all those anonymous "serious homosexuals" and gay organizations: I know of no gay-rights organization in Venezuela that has ever claimed that Chávez is or might be gay although I do know of one that reveres him as if he were a God and parrots his every exclamation as if it were all that the Venezualan gay community needed.

The truth is that, while there are a few instances when he has used rhetoric bunching up homosexuals with prostitutes and drug-dealers and in which his anti-United States policies have caused major disruptions in access to HIV medicines in the country, overall Chávez has not had a strong anti-gay record or - unfortunately - a pro-gay one either. And I say this as someone who thinks Chávez is a clown who is lucky to have millions of dollars from oil production to appease the population and burnish his popular cred while his ego and dictatorial fever just grows unchallenged (much blame goes to the right-wing Venezuelan oligarchy who choose to demonize Chávez without offering a viable political alternative).

For example, Agence France-Press reported yesterday that Tamara Adrian, a transgender university professor (also a Latin American representative to the International Gay and Lesbian Law Association and a former National Assembly candidate) led a group of advocates to the Venezuelan parliament where they asked the legislative body to legalize same-sex unions.

"We are asking for the right to marriage or to a legal union similar to those called concubine relationships," said Adrian, "and the recognition of joint maternal or paternal rights in the families of gay or lesbian couples."

The group was also petitioning for the community to be included in legislation that prohibited discrimination.

I'm not sure how far they will go. It's a little bizarre but even those Venezuelan newspapers that reported on these demands picked it up from the AFP report and none the portals of Venezuelan gay advocacy organizations that I visited made any mention of the group's efforts.

But, if recent history is right, while the measure might receive nominal support from some legislators, don't hold your breath for
Chávez to do anything about it or use his extensive political power to do anything significant for the LGBT community in Venezuela anytime soon.


Bob Schwartz said...

Hi El Blabbeador

I am a US resident and backer of revolution in Cuba and Venezuela. I post this here rather than to the GWB list since I doubt that everyone wants to engage in a debate about Marxist politics at this time in the early development of the network.

Chavez is no "clown." He has taken on powerful interests in support of working people in Venezuela, and the fact that he has angered the powerful in the US, both Democrats and Republicans, means that he is doing something right.

Gays have had to struggle in Cuba --just as we have done in the Untied States--and I wish the Communist party leadership there had invested more capital in advancing gay liberation. Nevertheless, gays in Cuba have backed the revolution and are achhieving a place at the table.

I was at a meeting with a Venezuelan supreme court justice visiting Chicago. He was a backer of marriage equality for gays and thought that it would happen, if gays demand it, and that it would eventually win the endorsement of the Chavez leadership.

Juan L. Iglesias said...

For a sort of funny comment on Anson's piece of writing, take a look at Ignacio Escolar at; who basically deconstructs Anson's rant by applying same logic: I heard Anson is gay, now Anson must prove he's not. Y gracias por la traducción, ya mismo te enlazo.

Emilio said...

Seems to be easy to direct the game from the bench. I come from Venezuela and I do not see even a minimal improvement. Sadly, people it getting poor and poor. Chaves have been teaching every president in power, that cheating to control it is fine, if you know how do it. A prove: USA has a president that never won...

Thanks Blabbeador,
BTW I love La Lupe, as well.

Ames Tiedeman said...

Those who support Hugo Chavez are nothing more than single minded socialists who are violating the basic tenants of human rights. They are no different than Chavez himself. In the end both will fail. It is quite shocking that these supporters actually think it is okay that Chavez has cancelled the oppositons radio station, television station, magazines, and newspapers. Everyone must support freedom and Democracy in Venezuela. What we see in Caracas is nothing less than the second coming of Fidel Castro himself.

cybergrace said...

Why are people so hating Castro and Chavez? Can people honestly say life for the poor is getting worse? My friends that visit Cuba and Venezuala say things are much better. But, they aren't visiting an middle class or wealthy people. I'm American and don't know anything, yes. But... Well, Andreas, I love you and your blog, you techie brother. I guess we'll agree to love Bob Kohler and agree to disagree on C & C.

Anonymous said...

Although Fidel had a good vision for Cuba, he became corrupt and has betrayed us. As much of a socialista I am, I will NEVER support oppression of human rights. Dissidents have the RIGHT to express our opinions ..we should have this right, without fearing retaliation. Chavez should be more formal and respectful in his discourses. He comes across as vulgar and low class. I pray he doesn't go down Fidel's path...que tristeza pa' Venezuela. Cuba's past towards gays was HORRIFIC..sent to work in camps..emprisioned or marginalized...Things are better now, but have long way to go.