By John Sullivan
For the better half of a decade, Black Lives Matter has been a rallying cry against the systemic, and institutional oppression that minorities have faced at the hands of governments the world over. Or one would be led to believe.
The Black Lives Matter Global Network’s mission statement is to “eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilante.” With that mission statement, the Black Lives Matter Global Network has dominated the discussion on social justice in North America and Europe. Apparently only the first goal really matters to them though.
Recently, the organization has taken flak for its support of the Communist Cuban regime, as the state sanctioned violence in Cuba has been well documented for decades. Many people are speaking out against the diatribe that the United States Government is at fault for the recent protests in Cuba.
To clarify, no economic sanctions force the Cuban government to kill citizens. No economic sanctions cause the Cuban government to attack protestors. As we heard over the summer of 2020 following George Floyd’s death, protesting is a human right. It’s a fundamental part of freedom of speech.
Nevertheless, the organization’s statement has landed it in some hot water with international rights activists. This issue brought another problem to light too. BLM rarely condemns actual state violence against black and brown people, unless it is in Europe, Canada, or the United States.
In 2015, The Black Lives Matter Global Network released a statement supporting the Venezuelan government and denouncing U.S. intervention. This came after BLMGN cofounder Opal Tometi met on stage with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Since then, things in Venezuela have changed massively.
In 2016 alone, the Venezuelan government ordered more than 18,000 extrajudicial killings. Keep in mind, this was all under Maduro’s regime. For those of you that don’t know, extrajudicial means it falls outside of legality. An extrajudicial killing means the victim has not received a fair trial or is not competent to face execution for a crime.
To put in perspective, since the year 2016, the Venezuelan government has killed more people illegally than the amount of people who attended the last full capacity Milwaukee Bucks game. If you want a reference for how many people they’ve killed in the last five years, go watch Giannis dunk at the last pre-pandemic game. All those people in the seats, the Venezuelan government illegally slayed.
For the BLMGN to endorse such a government distinctly clashes with their expressed mission statement. How can they be considered an ally to Latin American communities when they are defending our oppressors from scrutiny? More importantly, why are they defending these abusive authoritarian governments?
The Black Lives Matter Global Network has yet to release a statement condemning state violence against black and brown citizens at the hands of the Maduro regime. The initial statement released in support of the Venezuelan government has since been taken down, but an archive of the statement, and description of its contents can be found here.
It doesn’t end there. Recently, the Biden administration’s Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, announced the administration would turn away refugees fleeing by sea from both Cuba and Haiti. Of course, these two nations are undergoing extreme unrest due to authoritarian government policies. In Haiti’s case, they also have to deal with a full-blown humanitarian crisis.
Yet, this announcement faced no condemnation from the Black Lives Matter Global Network. This is significant, as BLMGN has openly called such zero tolerance policies repugnant in the past. In the face of the Trump administration’s immigration policies, the organization made a public statement that read as follows,
“The Trump Administration’s decision to establish and enforce a zero-tolerance policy at the border towards immigrants seeking asylum is reprehensible and, in our ongoing work to dismantle oppressive systems and policies, is firmly against the values of Black Lives Matter.”
Yet when Cubans, Venezuelans, and Haitians face state sanctioned violence, mums the word. Why is the BLMGN endorsing abusive authoritarian governments that are murdering black and brown citizens? It seems like the answer is they only care when it’s right-wing politicians and governments abusing their citizens.
If your leadership isn’t from that background, your life may not matter after all.
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