Recently, I read some statements by Chavez that I agreed with. Then, however, I turned to another source, the Boston Review. After detailing instances of el presidente's anti-Semitic actions, the article presents the following passage. (Somehow I doubt that Stone has covered this matter in his film.)
"Chávez . . . refers to his opponents as “escuálidos” (squalids), a Spanish term that connotes not only dirtiness and abjection, but also flimsiness, wimpiness, and scrawniness. Not surprisingly, figures conventionally associated with degradation are important in the imagery. Homophobia is a key element in that repertoire; although unlike Cuba (Castro is Chávez’s admired “father”), which bans homosexuality and persecutes homosexuals, Chavismo relies on homophobia as invective rather than state policy.
Most commonly, homophobic sentiments and images are mobilized around the figure of the escuálido. For instance, the Chavista theme in the so-called Battle of Santa Inés—the response to the opposition’s 2004 campaign to revoke Chávez’s mandate—was “Florentino y el Diablo,” a story about a handsome Creole cowboy who wins a duel with the devil. Florentino, Chávez’s stand-in, appeared in a series of posters, a masculine rider on a tall horse, lance in hand, threatening a squeamish, stereotypically gay devil—an escuálido. Florentino’s lance points to the devil’s bottom in a gesture of penetration that Chávez has himself enacted verbally. On La Hojilla sodomy was Chávez’s metaphor for dominating the opposition—vamos a jugar el juego del rojo . . . . tu te agachas y yo te cojo; a non-rhyming translation is “let’s play the game of red . . . . ‚ you bend down and I fuck you.” The game does not jeopardize Chávez’s gender identity; in much of Latin America the male sodomizer is not regarded as a homosexual.
Perhaps the worst and saddest example of official homophobic censure occurred after a skirmish with the Catholic Church, one of the main institutional opponents of the regime. After a prominent priest was murdered in a Caracas hotel room, Venezuela’s Attorney General sought to dispel criticisms of the government’s incapacity to combat crime by claiming that the priest “had participated in his own death” because “we found excrement and also injuries in his anus.” In another telling case, Mario Silva, after calling a gay social columnist who criticized the bad taste of a military parade “pato” (“queer”), jabbed:
You would probably want our armed forces to dress in pink or wear silk uniforms. I can picture you leading the parade all wrapped in feathers. I’m not homophobic, by the way. But each of us should accept his true nature. You have no right to talk about the army, the army is very foreign to what you are. You have to show respect.
Pronouncements such as these are often followed by proclamations of alleged love for gays, and a tender commitment to multiculturalism.
What Chavista opponents—be they escuálidos, patos, or Gringo-Zionist-Imperialists—have in common is shit. Chávez routinely calls his opponents “plastas” (“lumps of shit”). Thus, in an aggressive speech the day after a key 2007 referendum, Chávez, dressed in military garb and surrounded by the highest- ranking of his armed forces, referred to the opposition’s victory as a “victory of shit.” The army, described by Ceresole as the third point on the Chavista triangle of fundamental direct relationships, were publicly incarnated as the force of containment: the military brass were present at the speech to warn the opposition against getting overly enthusiastic about its victory of shit. The metaphor is perhaps symptomatic of Chavista hysteria with regard to the opposition. It is not easy to keep shit in its place."
Labels: Hugo Chavez homophobia