“Using Venezuelan women in the campaign is disgusting”: Venezuelan feminists rebut Bolsonaro

Feminist collectives repudiated the president’s statements about young Venezuelan girls and demanded that migrants be protected

October 21, 2022 by Brasil de Fato
Jair Bolsonaro and his wife Michelle Bolsonaro recorded a video with Maria Teresa Belandria. Photo: Youtube screenshot

Feminist movements and collectives in Venezuela expressed their rejection to the statements made by the president and re-election candidate Jair Bolsonaro of the Liberal Party (PL), who insinuated that Venezuelan children living in Brazil were victims of child prostitution.

In a jointly issued statement, 15 feminist organizations condemned the Brazilian president’s remarks and called them “slanderous, criminal and repugnant.”

“These events represent a serious violation of the human rights of Venezuelan migrant girls and women, because they violate their dignity and deliberately promote xenophobia, aporophobia, racism, and sexist violence,” the document says.

For Marcia Moreno, leader of the Unidas Anzoátegui movement, one of the organizations signing the statement, Bolsonaro tried to make a political use of Venezuelan children to strengthen his election campaign. “It is disgusting to use the name of Venezuela and Venezuelan women in elections where a far-right candidate accuses his rival of wanting to convert Brazil into a Venezuela,” she told Brasil de Fato.

Moreno also states that Bolsonaro’s hostile posture towards Venezuela is a legacy of Donald Trump’s US government, which has extended economic sanctions against the country. “These statements make no sense and we know that strategies like this are orchestrated by the United States, so we deeply reject these statements,” he said.

In the statement, the collectives also ask that “feminist organizations, social movements and Brazilian society in general…speak out about this horrible act of offense and discrimination.”

“We demand that the Brazilian state, its institutions, the justice system and all competent bodies speak out about this lamentable case, adopting measures of retraction in favor of Venezuelan girls and women, apply the laws that protect women and girls, and take all actions that guarantee the safety and protection of Venezuelan migrant girls and women in Brazil,” the statement says.

The Venezuelan movements also blame the sanctions imposed by Washington for the high migratory flows from Venezuela to several countries in the region and states “that the blockade and the economic warfare applied […] constitute a form of violence against women.

According to data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), around six million Venezuelans live outside Venezuela. Many of them left the country in the migratory flows of recent years driven by the economic crisis in the country. In Brazil there are about 300,000 migrants from the neighboring country.

Participation of “ambassador” is also criticized

In the interview with Brasil de Fato, Moreno also condemned the participation of Venezuelan lawyer Maria Teresa Belandria in a video recorded by Bolsonaro to try to retract his statements about migrant children.

In the message, Belandria is presented as “ambassador of Venezuela.” However, as Brasil de Fato earlier reported, the lawyer was never appointed diplomatic representative by the Venezuelan government. She was “appointed” by former deputy Juan Guaidó, who is still recognized by Bolsonaro’s government as “interim president” of the neighboring country.

“This causes us much disgust, to see how women lend themselves to accompany, to cover up this kind of attitude against other women, against children and, moreover, who are their compatriots,” Moreno said.

This article was originally published on Portuguese in Brasil de Fato.