Maduro signed into law today a piece of legislation called Ley sobre el Derecho a la Mujer a Una Vida Libre de Violencia [Law on the Right of Women to a Violence-Free Life]. Among other things, the law codifies femicide as a distinct crime.
During the ceremony commemorating the signing of the law, a PSUV supporter was given the opportunity to speak. In a fiery speech, the supporter talked about the scarcity crisis affecting the country, and blamed “the right wing” for causing it. The video can be seen below, along with my translation:
PSUV Supporter: We’re suffering through the worst kind of violence right now. I’m going to be honest with you. At this moment, the Venezuelan woman is the victim of the cruelest kind of violence: scarcity. It’s unbelievable, Mr. President – unbelievable! – that a woman has to get up at 4:00 AM to buy flour, oil, or chicken.
We can’t let the right wing do this! We can’t allow the Venezuelan right wing to force us to kneel. We’ll never be on our knees! That’s why we like what you’re doing, and that’s why with this law we have to put handcuffs on all those irresponsible business people! They’re against the people! They’re against women!
Mr. President, we implore you, we’re begging you – we are not going to accept having to run around looking for diapers, harming our sisters! We’re not going to run around anymore, looking for toilet paper. No, Mr. President! We won’t do this anymore. We welcome this law!
We want you to put handcuffs [on the business people/right wing] and that you send them to Rodeo [a prison], because it’s not possible that our women are being made victims like this. No! Please, forgive my bitter tone, but this is a bitter and difficult topic, a theme of violence against women, and we have to put an end to this. If we have to take to the streets, we’ll take to the streets!
I want to conclude by thanking you, but also by calling on you to support the women from the barrios, the people, the same women who Chavez taught to defend themselves, the woman who knows how to read and write, that woman who went to high school and university, that same one. The same one who now – that irresponsible FEDECAMARAS [the Venezuelan chamber of commerce] – wants to put on her knees. But we will never kneel, because if that woman from the 23 de Enero [a slum in Caracas] said that she was cooking rice con la pata que le quedaba de la cama [literally, “with the last leg of her bed”; I think she means, “she was cooking with very little available to her”], the business people have to know that we will fight alongside Maduro, always, and that they will never be back [in power]!
Maduro: “I detest ‘Red’ Corruption”
During a different event today, Maduro launched an official anti-corruption strategy, and said:
The most detestable thing there is, what I detest the most is a corrupt bandit, dressed in red [the government’s colour] and pretending to be a revolutionary. chavista, Bolivarian. It’s what I detest the most, because it’s the maximum expression of hypocrisy. Corruption is linked to the anti-values of the dominant capitalist culture of “easy riches”.
I can’t help but think that when that PSUV supporter launched into her speech about scarcity there weren’t at least one or two people in the audience who were shocked by how she could dare to criticize the government in such a tone and at such a time. I’d like to think that Maduro felt really nervous, thinking that the woman was going to blame his government for the scarcity problems Venezuela is suffering from. When Maduro stood up to clap, I like to think that he was feeling immense relief.
I also find it really interesting that in his comments regarding corruption, Maduro did two things: 1) he said that it was impossible for a PSUV member to be corrupt, and 2) that corruption was a consequence of capitalism.
On the first point, Maduro doesn’t differentiate between people who are honestly PSUV members and corrupt, and those who are pretending to be PSUV members and corrupt. In other words, any corrupt PSUV members are merely pretending to be PSUV members, because no true PSUV member would be corrupt.
On the second point, Maduro blames capitalism for corruption. Corruption is any kind of deviation from an ideal form or concept. In this case, the kind of corruption Maduro is talking about is the one that, for example, an official engages in when he accepts a bribe. But capitalism is not to blame for this kind of corruption: greed is, and greed exists in all people, not just those living in capitalist societies.