Saturday, September 19, 2009

Wizardry of Dictatorship: Chavez

While Oliver Stone's new "documentary" tours some film festival around the world, Hugo Chavez parades red carpets like a Hollywood celebrity. The film "South of the Border" seems to ignore the shortcomings of the Venezuelan dictator. Stone on Chavez: "He's open and warmhearted and big, and a fascinating character."

He seems very open, especially with the new Media Crimes bill that would give the Venezuelan government sweeping authority to jail journalists, media executives, and bloggers who report on anything that the government considers to be harmful to state interests.

Got that: "state interests"

There are concerns about recent shutdowns of radio stations in Venezuela and a proposed law in Argentina that would break up Clarin, one of Latin America's largest newspaper and cable TV companies. Globovision, the last "opposition aligned" TV channel on the open airwaves, is also the target of multiple investigations that authorities say could lead to the revocation of its broadcast license.

This 2007 article (,8599,1626151,00.html) reveals the longtime struggle in Venezuela for media outlets. Protests are widespread in this extremely polarized society.

Now back to Oliver Stone on Chavez's "dark side": "A dark side? There's a dark side to everything. Why do you seek out the dark side when the guy is doing good things?" He is a democrat and there is opposition to him, and he's not perfect. But he is doing tremendous things for Venezuela and the region."

So the Hollywood portrayal of Hugo Chavez will be a warm-hearted, fascinating character performing tremendous things. Interesting parallel to Sean Penn on David Letterman after a 2007 visit: "fascinating", "fascinating character" and "did incredible things for the 80% of the people that are very poor there" ( -- all of this before Penn LIED about RCTV promoting killing Chavez daily.

There has been a surge in anti-Semitism fueled by the government, even circulating "Protocols of the Elders of Zion", an alleged worldwide Jewish conspiracy to seize control of the world. The independent Caracas newspaper, El Universal, has documented hundreds of instances of anti-Semitism in government media.

Chavez has a tight relationship with Iranian President Ahmadinejad, visiting Iran several times and voicing his support for an Iranian nuclear program. The Venezuelan Jews are leaving, migrating elsewhere.

The violence is also against women.

Venezuela added a law in 2007 proclaiming the violence against women as human rights crime. Amnesty international's statement:

"Thousands of women in Venezuela live in a constant state of fear of violence from their partners, fear for their lives and the safety of their children. When a safety net is not provided, many women feel that they have no choice but to stay with their abuser or to be homeless and unable to support themselves or their children." - March 2008.

From February 2009: "...almost two years on, there is still a wide gap between the law’s promised objectives and its implementation in practice. One significant obstacle to delivering the promised protection is the desperate shortage of shelters for women experiencing domestic violence." -- Amnesty International.

Hugo Chavez, though, insists that reports of 100,000 people being murdered in the country since 1999 are lies from private media, though he admits that the nation's crime problems are quite bad.

Chavez maybe joining the Cult of Personality Club with President Obama, thanks to Hollywood and this new Oliver Stone tour. According to TIME magazine, the film never questions the human rights violations, the oppression of the free press or the outbreak of attacks on Jews.

I find that incredible and fascinating.

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating article Brandon. It is almost a quixotic attempt by Oliver Stone to reproduce a fantasy-like persona of a criminal dictator. I caught a fantastic movie a couple of years ago called "Yo Soy Cuba" that shows the Cuba of the 1950's and further explains the effects of Castro on freedom. Highly recommended. Nice piece.