What Does the Death of ORLANDO FIGUERA Mean?

Submitted by David Comissiong, Citizen of Barbados

Try as I may, I cannot get out of my mind and psyche the image of 21 year old Afro-Venezuelan Orlando Figuera being burnt to death in the streets of Caracas, Venezuela. This is surely one of the worst cases of a modern day lynching of a black man!

Orlando Figuera happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. On the afternoon of Saturday the 20th of May 2017 he was innocently walking along the public streets of the district of Chacao in Caracas, the capital city of Venezuela, when he stumbled upon one of the several violent street protests that are currently being staged by the Opposition political forces of Venezuela.

The crowd of white Opposition protestors  looked at this black young man and decided that he had to be a supporter of the socialist Government of the late Hugo Chavez and of the current President Nicolas Maduro.

Who knows? Maybe the mere fact that Orlando Figuera was visibly a member of an ethnic minority community that had historically been discriminated against by the white social elite that comprise the leadership of the political Opposition– an ethnic community that only began to share in the benefits of the oil wealth of Venezuela after Hugo Chavez and his United Socialist Party came to power– might have been enough to mark young Orlando off as a Chavista.

Or maybe, as some have claimed, the young black man proudly identified himself as a Chavista.

Whatever the case may be, the fact is that as soon as Orlando Figuera was identified as a Chavista– and a BLACK Chavista at that– the white racist mob immediately set upon him; beat him brutally; stabbed him six times; doused him with gasoline; and set him on FIRE !!!

The ghastly scene was photographed and has been captured for all eternity.

Orlando Figuera was so severely burnt that he suffered some two weeks of excruciating pain before finally succumbing to his fatal injuries.

The question that all of us must now grapple with and try to answer is as follows:- What does the death of Orlando Figuera mean?

In the days following this lynching by fire, Orlando’s mother–Ms. Ines Esparragoza– tried to process what had happened to her son, and plaintively asked :- “Why does Julio Borges (the Opposition president of Venezuela’s National Assembly) allow this? Why does Henrique Capriles (the big-shot Opposition presidential candidate) allow it? Who do I blame? The Opposition, because they are the ones who doused him in gasoline like an animal.”

For us–the black people of the Caribbean–we should be asking why, after more than five hundred years of European settlement in this hemisphere, black people are still being lynched by whites. And also, why was the gruesome death of young black Orlando Figuera so overlooked and disregarded by our News Media, our political leaders, our religious leaders, and indeed by the masses of ordinary men and women ? Why indeed, is the death of a black man so meaningless to our Civilization– even a death by lynching?

Who will demand justice for Orlando Figuera and his family? Who will lift up his name and ensure that he is not marginalized, trivialized and  forgotten ?

And finally, what does the lynching of Orlando Figuera say about the social and political confrontation that is currently taking place in Venezuela ? What does it say about the type of society, the type of future that we must be prepared to fight for?


  • The origin article of the incident claimed that the young man Orlando Figuera was suspected of being a thief, as well as a supporter of the late Hugo Chavez. But more importantly, what the piece above fails to acknowledge is the fact that Orlando Figuera was helped by members of the same crowd, and he was taken to an area hospital where he subsequently succumbed to his injuries several days later. So the question was asked: “What does this young man’s senseless death means to me?” Well it means that somewhere in the heart of that crowd fueled by emotions, existed a respect for the sanctity for human life, so in my estimation, all hope is not lost as far as I’m concerned.


  • Racism in South and central America remains about the worst in the entire civilised world. No single country is an exception and as Caribbean people we must look at the recent history of countries such as Panama, Cuba, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua – all of them. As black people that should be our focus, not utopian ideas.


  • I don’t see where this incident had been racially motivated because the young man was Spanish of African descent. Because no where in the original article I have read that the crowd was shouting racial epithets at this young man because of his ethnicity, so one could only speculate as to whether or not the reference to skin colour isn’t an attempted to generate discussion?


  • The crowd of white Opposition protestors  looked at this black young man and decided that he had to be a supporter of the socialist Government of the late Hugo Chavez and of the current President Nicolas Maduro.

    You do not have to shout racist epithets. It is the act that is racist,


  • I am not fully convinced that the incident was racially motivated because what we do know is the that fact that an assumption was made by a group of opposition supporters that because Orlando Figuera was black, that somehow he was a supporter of the late Hugo Chavez. That’s no more different than saying that the majority of African Americans are supporters of the Democratic Party.


  • Go to YouTube and listen to this young man’s father characterization of the entire incident and you will see that it had more of a political implication than a racial intent.


  • @Dompey

    You have to be a keen follower of news out of Venezuela to understand the colour of the rhetoric vitriol being spewed from the right. It is not only political but steeped in racism as well. Go and do some research!


  • Dompey,
    The historical context is also important.


  • Further, let us accept your position that it is only political such a position is myopic because it ignore what the burning of the young poor Black man represents for a large Black poor class in Venezuela. It is what gave rise to Chevez and has sustained Maduro up to now.


  • Bushie won’t argue with Dompey about fires and arson…
    Who feels it knows it….


  • @The Blogmaster at 6:06 AM …You are absolutely correct. Unfortunately Dompey is not alone with his myopia. Previously on these pages others have shown a similar misunderstanding of the colour dynamic in South/Central America.

    (We do recall for example a discussion centered around a Louis Gates PBS series on Blacks in LatAm, do we not!)

    David C’s pleas are well made but alas will blow away in the wind as so often happens. There is little chance that there will be real justice for Orlando Figuera and his family and very surely it will not serve as a rally-point for race relations in Venezuela or LatAm.

    It is well known that Brazil – as the most glaring example in LatAm – has the recorded largest contingent of people of African descent outside the African continent… in FACT a recent census as I recall actually listed the Black and Mixed-Race citizenry as now being the majority population: Of that 50%+ majority some 17 million identify as unapologetically Black.

    Yet ALL the other metrics – in a country with the 6th largest economy – decries any Afro-Brazilian achievement in grand numbers: No members of Cabinet; very few Afro representatives (compared to pop size); in bottom percentiles in wages, living standards, social mobility etc.

    So for all the fame from years past of Pele, Jairzinho and those Black soccer ‘Gods’ Brazil like Venezuela and its sister nations on that continent are deeply soaked in racist discrimination.

    Young Orlando Figuera is another ‘favella’ type denizen whose life is accorded foot-note status in the grand scheme of things.

    His death says everything we absolutely KNOW is accurate “about the social and political confrontation[s]” we face daily and which Blacks in that region have endured painfully.

    Sad and unfortunate but as real as life itself.


  • @Dee Word

    Some of the most racist people can be found in Brazil and Argentina, you cited good examples. You will also recall the brouhaha around Neymar and his bleaching of the skin as a more frivolous example.


  • There is also the Hyatt which has come under attack by some having a lynch mob mentality a project that if denied would have induced a grave disservice which is the equivalent of throwing gasoline on an area called bay street and its people.


  • millertheanunnaki

    @ Hal Austin June 20, 2017 at 4:19 AM
    “Racism in South and central America remains about the worst in the entire civilised world. No single country is an exception and as Caribbean people we must look at the recent history of countries such as Panama, Cuba, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua – all of them. As black people that should be our focus, not utopian ideas.”

    “Entire civilised world”??? What is so “civilised’ about racism?

    People of European extract are no more likely to be racist and discriminate against black people than Chinese, Japanese or even East Indians.

    Why have you never stopped to ask the question why “black people’ are always at the bottom of the socio-economic totem pole whenever they are existing among other races even when these same black people make up the majority of the population like South Africa and Barbados?

    Who do you think are the ones keeping the Roman Catholic Church and other nouveau arrivant Christian god-selling outlets’ financially viable in the same South & Central Americas, in the Antilles especially Haiti and even on their ‘mother’ continent?

    How come black migrants to countries like the UK and USA start and usually end up at the bottom of the social and economic heap while working almost for the ethnic majority of their ‘new’ country of residence whereas the opposite holds true when migrants of other ethnic groups settle in countries where the majority population is black.

    Just look at Barbados with its East Indian minority practically controlling certain sectors of the economy and rarely finding themselves working for any of the “indigenous” ethnic groups or even in the public sector.

    Black people will always be subservient and be dominated and controlled by other “racist” groups as long as they prostrate themselves before other people’s god(s) and not the God that gave them their black skin and distinct features in the first place.


  • David, as if to affirm the almost impossible deep divide between the reality of destructive and deadly race conflict and the ‘fantasy race-conflict’ that steals the spotlight and divert the debate this headline caught my attention:

    “Rachel Lindsay breaks down in tears under ‘pressure’ of being first black Bachelorette”

    This relates to a US TV show which I have actually never watched but yet with which I have a passing familiarity. Another reality show that grabs attention based on the love and dating interests of a bunch of attractive, well-to-do youth.

    Now she is the ‘first’ Black protagonist on the show. Whoopee!! …not Goldberg (LOL).

    Nothing remotely comparable to the story under discussion which is a serious reality of life but a reminder nonetheless of how media hype can sensationalize racial disparity in all guises of life.


  • Just to think that that the black businesses that occupy the bay street area would be the most burned to the ground if the lynch mob lead by David Commissiong have there way in their fight against the Hyatt Project


  • Doesnt those black business on bay Street deserved another chance of survival. Or is it that those black lives on bay street fighting for economic survival does not matter


  • How is it in good conscience can David Commissiong pen an article about the burning of a Venezuelan black when right here under his nose he has lead the charge tantamount to egregious actions which would destroy black business survival on bay street


  • millertheanunnaki

    @ angela Skeete June 20, 2017 at 10:53 AM

    If you are so keen to see the people of Bay Street come into their bagatelle of economic prosperity why not put David C out of his interdicting and frustratingly interfering misery by getting Fumble & Stinkliar to facilitate the ‘dispatching’ through the justice system the Hyatt legal imbroglio just as was conveniently facilitated with the firing of the Guv of the CB.

    What David has done is to put a tourniquet to the bleeding hole in the taxpayers’ hand to prevent too much of their money going into the scam designed to fund the DLP 2018 campaign through the creaming-off in true Medici fashion some of the consultancies, mobilization and finders’ fees just like the many still in the pipeline like the Pierhead redesign, Sugar Point cruise ship terminal and the new Andrews Sugarcane state-of-the-art power generation plant.


  • What David Comissiong has done is to lite a fire of unconscionable proportions that if alowed to get out of control would burn the economic foundations of bay street to the ground . A project which can provide jobs which is central to economic activity attributed to the construction of the Hyatt
    David Commissiong in his zeal for revenge against capitalist has now place bay street in the fire of economic destruction. How sad even as he now tries to protray that one black Venezuelan life matter while forgetting that on bay street their are hundred of black lives seeking economic survival


  • Racisim comes in many shades and colors. Why is it that the black business community of bay street is being denied a chance of econmoic prosperity at the hands of a few whose lifestyle is grounded in luxury and style .
    Why is it that the cries of the black business comunity of bay street are not heard while the attempt at further destruction remains in tact


  • Angela,

    The reason the black business class in Barbados is on the periphery is because of trust and government’s failure. The government has a small business department, what d was once invited to one of their meeting in Warrens and they were hopeless.
    The other issue is more complex: the Five and Ten Model Store, James A Tudor, Gertz, – we can go on. Most of these businesses died because the banks sabotaged them, or because their children refused to join the family firms. But it has been the same for the Bay Street Boys. Mot family-owned businesses do not go beyond two generations.
    On the matter of trust , the owner of a well know hotel business once asked me for (free) advice on how he should re-organise his business; had he asked an Englishman or Canadian, he would have paid them as consultants.


  • However on the issue of bay Street the face that is leading the charge to deny blacks business economic opportunity is a black man who protrays himself as an advocate for black people.Although their is a high probabily that the movers and shakers in the tourism industry might be part of the movement
    As fork the banks everyone knows that blacks world wide have not been given a fair share to acess the economic pie because of color but what is presently occuring under our noses to the black businesss of bay street by. Commissiong pwhich is in part a denial of acesss to a chance towards Commisiong is just as shameful.9


  • Name three Black businesses that are presently located on Bay Street?


  • Look. David is that a trick question i can point
    you to specific areas along the bay street area that are black owned.
    Maybe you should take a trip along bay street and see for for yourself instead of putting your two cents worth of political pablum in the mix


  • As for the banks everyone knows that color has been a major role in denying blacks an economic share of the pie. However what is glaringly shameful is that Commissiong who protrays himself as an advocate for the black people would join a long list of racist who would not stop at any given moment to keep blacks down
    By this i mean his torrid attempt to stomp on any economic progress which is help ful to the black community especially when he has no other solution


  • @ David

    Surely by now you should recognize that Angela Cox-Skeete and the “AC consortium of yard-fowls” are the same.

    Only ignorant stupid-is-ass yard-fowls would attempt to juxtapose the CONSTRUCTION of a hotel with the perpetration of a racist act.

    How can anyone in “their right frame of mind” compare the concerns expressed by citizens relative to the Hyatt project with the burning of a human being?

    How can anyone in “their right frame of mind” be PERSUADED to VOTE for the DLP AFTER READING the shiite nonsensical political rhetoric Angela Cox-Skeete CONTRIBUTES to this forum?


  • You thought nothing negro. You do the research what have you got to lose. I am a resident of that area i know it quute well and what business past as welll as present occupied bay street before its decay.
    Like i state get off your duff and do the research as to who owns what on bay street


  • One of the most successful black business of late was Julie N which started in Baxter’s Road. It became successful and his building at Haggatt Hall was designated by Mr. Farrakhan from the US as the best black business he had encountered in the world.
    Well it was destroyed by influential black Barbadians and now owned by the same whites that we are fighting with today over the Hyatt.
    Those historical walks in the city highlights the tremendous history of black entrepreneurs of Lower Bay Street


  • Black businesses on Bay Street: Maughan, the druggist; Martineau, the soft drink manufacturer; Harry’s nightclub;


  • Any one who can use any kind of agenda to deny black communities an advantage towards economic progress is treading on racist terriorty
    Mr. Commissiong is cunning and shrewd even the article has used a sway to distract the attention of what is happening in Venezuela to the many people prefering to direct an attention of a wrong done to a single black man whilst in the midst of carnage govt failed socialist policies are rendering Venezuela cities a wrong of unbearable blight
    Some barbadians are being sold a bill of hypocrisy by Commissiong that would make one shudder and recoil aboutv his intentions of creating division and muschievous activity amongst the black community of bay street


  • @Artax

    BU household is aware of many things. There are other names as well. The truth is nobody takes some yardfowls seriously therefore we don’t always bother to read the comment. Yu appear not to have acquired the skill to do similarly,,,lol.


  • I’m sure BU has already recognized/concluded that “Angela Skeete is an “EQUIVOCATOR.”

    She writes ambiguously, does not tell the “whole truth” and uses unclear expressions (equivocal language), usually to avoid commitment or in order to deceive and mislead contributors.


    “ac March 20, 2016 at 1:32 PM #: Sir much of my time is spent ADMINISTRATING and MANAGING a LARGE COMPANY and at intervals would comment within a working environment that can be a cause for me to be distracted…” LIAR

    “angela Skeete June 20, 2017 at 4:00 PM #: I am a resident of that area i know it quite well and what business past as well as present occupied bay street before its decay.” LIAR

    @ David

    I’m just having fun highlighting the yard-fowl’s ignorance…… hahaha


  • anyone who dares have a difference of opinion on BU becomes an enemy of the BU Household. Oh how so democratic, !


  • David Comissiong pens an article about a black man burned to death in Venezuela whilst he figuratively throws a lighted torch right into the heart of every black business which lies helpless along the corridors of Bay street
    Govt tries to throw a lifeline to those business and David Comissiong in his quest of self interest tries to snatch it away. How sad


  • I see Miller,Artax,David,Dribbler and Hal all ‘noticing’ the DLP troller.Follow my advice…simply disregard it.Do not respond.Never.


  • What does Ralph Gonsalves have to gain by supporting a ruthless govt in Venezuela


  • @Hal

    The question was about naming Black businesses operating on Bay Street of current vintage. Liquidation Centre is Indian, Laurie Dash, White, Boat Yard is White …


  • David of BU and David Commissiong will not see the Haitian Revolution playing out in Venezuela all over again. The outcome can only be centuries (or is it eternity?) of misery for the Venezuelan people as has happened in Haiti. For the Davids “my despot” is better than “your despot”; my “slavery” is better than your “slavery”.


  • David,

    I was adding to @Curious’s historical walks.


  • @Ping Pong

    Maybe so, maybe so.

    The revolution that brought Chevez and Castro and a few others to the fore- like many recorded in history- were fueled by a noble mostly to redistribute the wealth etc. Over time history has also shown it morphs into something else. The struggle continues.


  • David question about small business presently on bay street is superficially based on a mandate and agenda and is unjustifiable seeking only to invoke unreasonable mindset
    The fact being that there are some small black business on bay street and its outskirts which are located on beckles road and the bayland which would somewhat benefit from a major business project like that of the Hyatt similar to those years when the Hospital help to increase substantial economic revenue for those black business many of which were unable flourish after the hospital was relocated


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