Ignorance and intolerance go hand in hand

April 5, 2003

Last Tuesday there was a conference called “The effects of the war in Iraq in Venezuela“. The panelists were a former President of the Venezuelan oil company PDVSA, Humberto Calderon Berti and oil expert Mazhar Al Shereida. The crowd was mostly pro-Chavez, because pro-Chavez group organized it and there were maybe 300 pro-Chavez people and six that at least did not participate in the events that followed

Calderon Berti exposed his opposition to the Hussein tyranny, trying to summarize the history of the region, taking into account Arab culture. He was booed and heckled so much that the organizer of the event had to pacify the crowd in order to continue. People in the crowd were calling him “traitor”, “couspter” and other epithets.

Al Shereida spoke next and instead of talking about the war and Iraq, he proceeded to attack Calderon Berti, telling him he had learned nothing about Arab culture, that he was responsible for the oil strike and had been part of the conspiracy to overthrow Chavez. The crowd hailed Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi people, Al Shereida and Chavez. The crowd got so violent and insulting that Calderon Berti had to get up and leave. Six others accompanied him as the crowd followed screaming insults at them.

As you can see ignorance and intolerance are by now well-developed in Venezuela. While there is intolerance on both the pro-Chavez side and the opposition, I have yet to hear of similar episodes on the opposition side. God help us!

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