To return to the poster mentioned above, it is hardly necessary to reiterate that not all of the Venezuelan mothers with whom I spoke tolerated inaccurate, whitened representations of themselves and their children for political purposes. Paradoxically, this set of practices reinforces the capitalist prerogative that financial means determine access to basic health services. I realized that it is impossible to expect the Bolivarian revolution to overcome the legacies of color-based systems of representation that have so dominated Caribbean life for the past several centuries. As the ad no doubt intended, I as viewer was drawn to the milkiness of her skin—if only because of the contrast it provided with the racial demographics of the local population. Although I was not in close contact with more affluent and perhaps much lighter-skinned mothers, I knew that the vast majority of the general public was a colorful racially heterogeneous mix. The renamed Bolivarian State of Venezuela seemed like the perfect Caribbean nation in which to begin an interrogation of the position of the modern mother in Latin American society. From the 17th through much of the 20th century and even within certain socio-economic groups today Caribbean infants are nursed by women other than their birth mothers.
Lexie. Age: 21.
Refreshingly, most Venezuelans whom I spoke with did not express feeling similar social pressures discouraging cross-racial romantic or sexual relationships.
Lindsay. Age: 28.
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Selene Zander Before I began my Tinker research project in Venezuela this summer, I had been intrigued by the symbolic importance of mother figures in Caribbean societies. Breastfeeding interacts with female sexuality in ambiguous ways. The renamed Bolivarian State of Venezuela seemed like the perfect Caribbean nation in which to begin an interrogation of the position of the modern mother in Latin American society. Despite—or perhaps because of—their somewhat precarious status, mothers are revered in Venezuela, as in much of Latin America. This seemed to me a fitting response to the constant barrage of paper-thin Venezuelan models rigorously trained, primped and primed for the brief career of an international beauty queen.