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Venezuela: Capital Caracas Crushed By Climate and Racism!

On August 25, the Venezuelan capital was hit by severe weather. The bad weather caused alarm among the people of Caracas regarding the risk of natural disasters. Rains with strong winds led to street flooding, downed trees and chaos in the city. The storm caused flooding of streets and venues due to the overflow of the Guaire River, as well as due to insufficient sewer systems. In areas such as El Paraiso and San Martin Avenue, the rainfall caused flooding. Some areas were left without electricity. Wind gusts caused numerous trees to fall. Only on the main street of El Paraiso, the hurricane wind knocked down 27 trees!

The recent storms only exacerbate the problems Venezuela currently faces. Environmental issues which include sewage pollution into Valencia Lake, oil and urban pollution of Maracaibo Lake, deforestation, soil degradation, and urban and industrial pollution, especially along the Caribbean coast. A once wealthy country, Venezuela's economy was driven into political and economic crisis by corruption and mismanagement. The economic catastrophe in Venezuela, along with the brutal repression, has led more than 7 million people to migrate in search of a better life.

Racism is one of the main engines and expressions of the current counter-revolution. In Venezuela the revolutionary struggle to end white supremacy and for self-determination is slow, and complicated by white elites, backed by US imperialism, and by the denial of many that racism persists. Venezuela’s poor, or the extreme poor, who in 2003 were 30% of the population and by 2011 were only 6.8%.Chavismo’s accomplishments, especially in reducing poverty, are significant because of the near total correlation between class and race in Venezuela. That is, nearly all the wealthy and bourgeois people are phenotypically European, while nearly all those in poverty who live in the countryside or shacks on the sides of hills in the city are Black and Brown. Demonization, animalization and criminalization of people of African and Indigenous descent are themes both deeply embedded and flagrantly visible in the culture and institutions of Venezuelan society. White supremacy endures in Venezuela often resembling the United States and other settler colonial countries founded on conquest and slavery.

The sublime irony is the smaller the population of the poor the worse people who identify as white feel about their situation without white privilege, as their is no lower caste to do the menial labor those of the middle class find themselves at the same level on the social ladder as Mestizo (mixed Black, White and Indigenous) people they become the working class without the preferential treatment once offered by the elites!

While the roots of white supremacy run deep, the Bolivarian Revolution has seriously improved the lives of Venezuela’s majority—who are 60% Mestizo. Unlike the days of Venezuela’s dictatorships who served Standard Oil and the U.S. State Department, since 2001, voter registration is 97%.

An array of legal tools—including Land Reform, a new Constitution written by a Constituent Assembly, the Organic Law Against Racial Discrimination, chip away at discrimination and promote mass participation in government, and in the various communes, councils, collectives and cooperatives. These are the structures of peoples’ power including some 30,000 communal councils designed to ensure that once-marginalized people become the protagonists of their futures and nurture their dignity.

Global North countries and their agents are able to rally out in times of economic and climate-related upheavals, even after delaying climate action, ignoring/reversing previous climate deals and not meeting targets. They position themselves as the real ‘climate heroes’ willing to accommodate adjustment towards green capitalist expansion, however only on terms that often satisfy transnational financial and political interests. Otherwise the real positive effects on climate are practically non existent and the global risks persist.

At the same time, some of the worst predictions of climate breakdown are occurring, exacerbated by a failure to remake societies along more radically egalitarian lines. Racial capitalism, which refers to techniques of exclusion, differentiation and valuation in which communities that are ‘othered’ along racial lines become targets of violent expropriation, class dispossession and extraction relative to dynamic processes of accumulation, inequality and uneven development (Bhattacharyya, 2018, Leroy and Jenkins, 2021). Major weather events have occurred including landslides and flooding in Dominica, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Peru, to tropical cyclones and hurricanes in Bangladesh, Mexico and Central America and floods in , Colombia, and Venezuela (Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), 2022) with unequal effects that are inflected by processes of racialization.


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