Run Date: 09/27/06
By Jennifer Fasulo
WeNews commentator

Venezuela’s Chavez has publicly embraced Iran’s reactionary President Ahmadinejad. Jennifer Fasulo says this shows how women’s lives are maneuvered on the playing board of nationalist realpolitik.

Editor’s Note: The following is a commentary. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily the views of Women’s eNews.

(WOMENSENEWS)–Hugo Chavez, one of the key figures in the left populist movements spreading throughout Latin America, has publicly lauded and embraced Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Moments like this show just how little women’s lives matter in the world of nationalist politics.

Of course Venezuela and Iran have strategic political and economic interests in each other based on their roles as oil producers.

And one expects Chavez to condemn all U.S. military threats against Iran.

But there is no excuse for declaring solidarity with a theocratic regime that treats women like sub-humans. By embracing Ahmadinejad, Chavez is adding steam to the growing and dangerous alliance between left-wing and right-wing anti-imperialism.

In this equation, the only thing that matters is opposition to U.S. military power. Women’s rights, worker’s rights, student’s rights–the things that are supposed to matter to socialists, progressives and people of conscience–be damned.

Chavez appears not to have noticed that the current government of Iran has turned Iran into a country where gender apartheid and hatred of women are enshrined in law.

Regime of Violent Repression
This is a country where women are stoned to death for the “crime” of adultery, buried up to their necks and pelted in the face and head with stones until they die, where women have no right to divorce or child custody, are legally forced to veil under threat of physical beating or imprisonment, can’t travel without the permission of a husband or father, where their testimony in a court of law is considered half that of a man, and where political dissent of any kind, for women and men, is punishable by imprisonment, often torture and death.

This is the government that Chavez compares to his own as a “heroic nation,” one which he even deems “revolutionary.”

Chavez’s lack of concern for women’s rights in Iran is all too common among male leftists. Among too many of them, the status of women is often simply not on the radar screen. If it does get mentioned, it’s often dismissed as an issue of “culture.”

The insidious use of the word “culture” implies that women are brutally subjected not through force and violence, but because they or their “culture” wants it that way, and therefore it’s OK.

Aside from insulting the human spirit, which never passively accepts subjugation, this attitude ignores the actual conditions and historical facts in Iran.

People Are in Revolt
A cursory investigation of Iranian society will show that the Iranian people are in utter revolt against their despotic rulers, with women leading the way.

For 27 years women have resisted and defied the regime’s persecution of them, often at great risk to their lives. Along with an inspiring women’s movement, there are strong, secular workers and student movements, all of them opposing not only the Islamic Republic, but also U.S. threats of military attacks and sanctions on Iran.

How can Chavez–a declared socialist and defender of the downtrodden–align himself with the leader of such a reactionary regime, rather than the inspiring socialist and feminist movements which are fighting against it?

It is a terrible political choice that he need not make.

Chavez can and should renounce his solidarity with Ahmadinejad and place it with the people of Iran where it belongs.

He should be standing, not by the side of the executioner, but by the side of the unjustly accused and condemned, like 17-year-old Nazanine Fatehi who awaits execution for the crime of defending herself and her niece from a gang of rapists.

Or Kobra Rahmanpour, who also awaits execution and writes in a public letter, “I have suffered enough . . . Please help me! I don’t want to die. But right now I am more like a lifeless body who has forgot happiness and laughter in the scare from the execution rope . . . My only hope lies in people and my fellow humans.”

How must Kobra and Nazanine feel to see Chavez throw his arms around their executioner?

Chavez’s stance needs to be condemned by all progressive forces within the international community.

One group that has already issued such a condemnation is the Worker Communist Party of Iran. In a Sept. 14 statement they write, “We see the attempts by right-wing pro-America forces to overthrow Chavez and we value every bit of positive reform by the Chavez government in the interest of deprived and hungry people, but defending the murderous and terrorist leaders of the Islamic Republic, rolling out the carpet for them under the guise of anti-imperialism is nothing but throwing dust in the eyes of the people and covering up the brutal reality of the Islamic regime.”

The WPI–a leading leftist group in Iran that emphasizes human freedom and prioritizes women’s rights–goes on to challenge the very notion that the Islamic Republic is an anti-imperialist force.

“We must make it clear to Chavez and Castro that the Islamic current, without the support of the U.S. government and Western powers, could not have come to power; and without their help could not have stayed in power.” (This refers to various deals made between the United States and Iran, such as the Reagan administration’s secret arms deals with Iran known as “Contra-gate.”)

Some Credit Due
Chavez deserves credit for the things he’s done to improve the lives of poor people and curb the abuses of capitalism in Venezuela.

He has pushed economic initiatives for women and has recognized the financial contribution of women’s unpaid labor in the home. Recently, he initiated and signed a bill that would compensate women for their unpaid housework, something that socialist feminists have been fighting for several decades.

None of this, however, erases the fact that he has been criticized for his authoritarian leadership, including by the Venezuelan women who are pushing him to make good on his promises.

Critics point out his strong anti-abortion stance. He even attempted to put an anti-abortion amendment in the constitution, but strong resistance forced him to back off. And among feminists, the issue of paying women for housework is not clear-cut. While some argue that it will help raise women out of poverty, others believe that it will further institutionalize women’s place in domestic servitude.

All of these issues deserve to be reconsidered in light of Chavez’s alliance with an anti-feminist fundamentalist like Ahmadinejad.

After the recall election in which Chavez triumphed over efforts by the opposition to unseat him, he declared, “God has spoken.”

But to some of us, that is more like the sound of demagoguery. The true ideals of justice, equality and human liberation are better represented by the brave activism of those in Iran who are fighting to save women’s lives and chart a third course between U.S. domination and right-wing opposition to it.

Now, more than ever, we must stand up and defend them.

Jennifer Fasulo co-founded a solidarity group in support of women’s liberation movements in the Middle East. She is also an assistant producer for Joy of Resistance, Multicultural Feminist Radio on WBAI 99.5 FM in NYC.

Maryam Namazie


  1. Chavez wanted to garner support for his UNSC membership. He criss-crossed the globe in his private jet and met so many leaders and visited some countries again and again. The regime in Iran is one of them, he had a special interest there because, it was supposedly the next target of the war mongering- machine U.S. Equality of a genders is a a big question. But let us put it this way, when America carpet bombed iraq, they dint specifically select women and bombed them, did they?Now in front of a war, the question of gender never comes;so it is foremost to make a decision to stop such a war. Then comes the question of gender.Of making choices to partner with whom and not is a very tight question in this world now. We live in a situation where every speech of Chavez is greeted with a thunderous applause, but there is no one else who make a speech like that. The question of war/imperialism should be dealt with utmost urgency. Chavez was trying to do that. An allaince with the theocratic regime of Iran dint mean that he wanted all the women in Iran to be doomed.Feminist rather try to constrict their ideas in a very narrow sense, the cause can be dealt with, if they have a wider perspective about issues.I pity the situation of Nazanine Fatehi, Kobra Rahmanpour.

  2. It was disappointing that Chavez meeting with President Ahmadinejad, and being uncritical in any manner. I was also disappointed when he visited the dictator Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.My other team member Marxist from Lebanon, wrote this post, I believe you’ll enjoy: it is playing in the UK, see the movie Camp Jesus. It is about indoctrinating Christian youth, to be fanatic as Islamists. The movie openly said that.Regards

  3. .You have a riveting web logand undoubtedly must haveatypical & quiescent potentialfor your intended readership.May I suggest that you doeverything in your power tohonor your encyclopedic/omniscientDesigner/Architect as wellas your revering audience.As soon as we acknowledgethis Supreme Designer/Architect,Who has erected the beauteousfabric of the universe, our mindsmust necessarily be ravished withwonder at His infinate goodness,wisdom and power.Please remember to neverrestrict anyone’s opportunitiesfor ascertaining uninterruptedexistence for their quintessence.There is a time for everything,a season for every activityunder heaven. A time to beborn and a time to die. Atime to plant and a time toharvest. A time to kill anda time to heal. A time totear down and a time torebuild. A time to cry anda time to laugh. A time togrieve and a time to dance.A time to scatter stonesand a time to gather stones.A time to embrace and atime to turn away. A time tosearch and a time to lose.A time to keep and a time tothrow away. A time to tearand a time to mend. A timeto be quiet and a time tospeak up. A time to loveand a time to hate. A timefor war and a time for peace.Here’s what great men havesaid about the world’s best -seller:”I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us through this book.” — President Abraham Lincoln”For we must consider that we shall be as a City upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword throughout the world.” –John Winthrop, Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1630″It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” – President George Washington”The Bible is no mere book, but a Living Creature, with a power that conquers all that oppose it.” – Napoleon”That Book accounts for the supremacy of England.” – Queen Victoria”If there is anything in my thought or style to commend, the credit is due my parents for instilling in me an earlylove of the Scriptures. If we abide by the principals taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper; but if we and our posterity neglect its instructions and authority,no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us andbury all our glory in profound obscurity.” – Daniel Webster (Founding Father)”The Bible is worth all other books which have ever been printed.” – Patrick Henry (original member of the Continental Congress)”The Bible is the anchor of our liberties.” – President U.S. Grant”It is impossible to enslave mentally or socially a Bible-reading people. The principals of the Bible are the groundwork of human freedom.”- Horace Greeley (Editor)”That Book is the rock on which our Republic rests.” – President Andrew Jackson”In all my perplexities and distresses, the Bible has never failed to give me light and strength.” – Gen. Robert E. Lee”Bible reading is an education in itself.” – Lord Tennyson (Poet)”So great is my veneration for the Bible that the earlier my children begin to read it the more confident will be my hope that they will prove useful citizens of their country and respectable members of society. I have formany years made it a practice to read through the Bible once every year.” – President John Quincy Adams”The existence of the Bible, as a Book for the people, is the greatest benefit which the human race has ever experienced. Every attempt to belittle it is a crime against humanity.” – Immanuel Kant (Philosopher)”The New Testament is the very best Book that ever or ever will be known in the world.” – Charles Dickens (Author)”All human discoveries seem to be made only for the purpose of confirming more and more strongly the truths contained in the Sacred Scriptures.” – Sir William Herschel (Astronomer)”There are more sure marks of authenticity in the Bible than in any profane history.” – Sir Isaac Newton (Scientist)”Let mental culture go on advancing, let the natural sciences progress in even greater extent and depth, and the human mind widen itself as much as it desires; beyond the elevationand moral culture of Christianity, as it shines forth in the Gospels, it will not go.” – Goethe (Author)”I have known ninety-five of the world’s great men in my time, and of these eight-seven were followers of the Bible. The Bible is stamped with a Specialty of Origin, and an immeasurable distance separates it from all competitors.” – W.E. Gladstone (Prime Minister)”Whatever merit there is in anything that I have written is simply due to the fact that when I was a chile my mother daily read me a part of the Bible and daily made me learn a part of it by heart.” – John Ruskin (art critic and social commentator)”The Bible has been the Magna Charta of the poor and oppressed. The human race is not in a position to dispense with it.” – Thomas Huxley (Author & Scientist)”The whole hope of human progress is suspended on the ever growing influence of the Bible.” – W.H. Seward (Secretary of State)”America was born a Christian nation. America was born to exemplify that devotion to the elements of righteousness, which are derived from the revelations of Holy Scriptures. Part of the destiny of Americans lies in their daily perusal of this great book of revelations. That if they would see America free and pure they will make their own spirits free and pure by this baptism of the Holy Spirit.”–President Woodrow WilsonFor Christians, the life and death of Jesus are the ultimate expressions of love, and the supreme demonstrations of God’s mercy, faithfulness, and redemption. Since Christ’s miraculous Resurrection on Easter, more than 2,000 years ago, Christians have expressed joy and gratitude for this wondrous sacrifice and for God’s promise of freedom forthe oppressed, healing for the broken -hearted, and salvation. –President George W. Bush”It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For thisvery reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.”–Patrick Henry (original member of the Continental Congress)God designed humans to want to believe in something. That’s the image of God that is in us. But as G. K. Chesterton famously put it, when we reject the God of the Bible, we don’t believe in nothing; we believe in everything — including Little Green Men. – – Chuck ColsonI am trying here to prevent anyone from saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Jesus Christ: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.”That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level
    with a man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell.You must make your choice. Either this Man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse …. You can shut Him up for fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call HimLord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that option open to us. He did not intend to. — From Case for Christianity, by C.S. Lewis”Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3).” – – – The Laws and Statutes of Harvard College in 1643 “All scholars shall live religious, godly, and blameless lives according to the rules of God’s Word, diligently reading the Holy Scriptures, the fountain of light and truth; and constantly attend upon all the duties of religion, both in public and secret.” – – – Two central requirements in Yale College 1745 charterIf you stop believing what your professor told you had to be true and if you start thinking for yourself you may come to someconclusions you hadn’t expected. You may find the Bible makes more sense than you thought or were told to think. Allow yourselfto be ruined, ruined with regard to what you always thought could be true. Can you believe what you don’t understand? You and I believe everyday what we don’t understand unless it comes to the issue of salvation. – – – Dr. Woodrow KrollThere is simply no historic foundation for the position that the Framers intended to build the ‘wall of separation’ that was constitutionalized in Everson. The ‘wall of separation between church and state’ is a metaphor based on bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging. It should be frankly and explicitly abandoned. – – – Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, William RehnquistIn 1796 the US Supreme Court issued this ruling, “By our form of government, the Christian religion is the established religion,and all sects and denominations of Christians are placed on equal footing.” Some 57 years later, after Congress was petitioned to separate Christian principles from government, in 1853 the House Judiciary Committee issued their formal report, including these words: “In this age there is no substitute for Christianity. This was the religion of the founders of the republic, and they expected it to be the religion of their dependents. The great vital, conservative elements in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and divine truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” – – – Dr. Gerald Beavan “It is the duty of nations, as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”– President Abraham LincolnTrust in yourself and you are doomed to disappointment; trust in money and you may have it taken from you; but trust in God, and you are never to be confounded in time or eternity. – D.L. MoodyFaith and love are apt to be spasmodic in the best of minds. Men and women live on the brink of mysteries and harmoniesinto which they never enter and with their hand on the doorlatch they die outside. – – GK ChestertonBest wishes for continued ascendancy,Dr. WhoamiP.S. Here’s some blogs that I foundof interest as I negotiated my waythrough cyberspace:
    Is Jesus God?Religion ComparisonWatch The Jesus MovieMuhammad or Jesus???Answering IslamA Short Look At Six World ReligionsGod’s Word in different languages…How to become a ChristianWho Is Jesus?Around the WellEvery Student‘Thought & Humor’Tell me sometime what your thoughts are on the above:O)

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