Throngs are taking to the streets in Venezuela demanding reforms while being met by violent government soldiers leading to civilian deaths. This is due to a populace tiring of oppression and economic strife, which started under President Hugo Chavez, a figured admired by some celebrities.
When Chavez passed away last year, his regime continued as his longtime aide Nicolas Maduro “ran” for office and was elected by a very narrow margin, extending the misery of citizens. The Chavez/Maduro legacy has exhibited most of the failings of socialism on an impressive scale.
Chavez rose as a populist figure, demonizing the elites and gaining power on a wave of class warfare. He promptly began taking over many industries and placed them under state control. The result has been ongoing unemployment, lowered wealth and even regular food shortages.
And for some reason numerous Hollywood celebrities not only voiced approval of Chavez but lauded the man affectionately. This can only be a reflection of leftist tendencies and a hope that their idea of a socialist system was becoming a reality. Sadly these stars, five of which are listed below, have to delude themselves that Venezuela is a thriving society. Little surprise people who create fantasies for a living avoid the stark realities of their ideology failing on the global stage.
Few can match Penn for sheer affection towards Chavez. He was a frequent visitor of the autocrat, and has said he was “blessed” to know him so well, calling him, “one of the most important forces we’ve had on this planet.” When Chavez passed away Penn attended the funeral in person. While he eulogized the man who said President Obama had the same stench as President George W. Bush–describing him as a “clown,” and an “embarrassment” while turning the country into a disaster–Penn laughably declared, “The people of the United States lost a friend it never knew it had.”
Perhaps challenging Penn for top despotic affection is this firebrand director. Stone not only was a frequent visitor and raving supporter of Hugo, he went so far to make a fawning documentary on the leader. After trotting out South of the Border at a few high-profile film festivals, the movie was released domestically and became roundly ignored. Maybe there is no better way to show how out of touch Stone was than to look at the performance of his agitprop in Venezuela, where he believed Chavez was adored. After being given saturation promotional support and boosted in state-run theaters his love letter to the leader could not even earn over $20,000 after two weeks in theaters there. By contrast, a Michael Jackson documentary drew a few million dollars in Venezualen box office.
Stone has also visited Maduro, and recently at a conference on liberty he actually defended the government’s actions against the protesters, calling the latter group “sore losers” and rationalizing the violence on display. It seems nothing will shake his strident view that all is well with the oppressive leadership.
Stone’s latest project? A new film called Mi Amigo Hugo (My Friend Hugo) premiered in Venezuela today.
Moore is another film maker who has affection for Venezuela’s liberty-crushing statism. He met Chavez and he mourned the leader’s passing publicly. While Moore’s support for openly leftist, anti-capitalist policies comes as zero surprise what never is accounted for is the blindspot these men have regarding despotic actions towards those in their field. Considering every perceived slight here in the U.S. in regards to rights is cause for alarmism from Moore, how then does he excuse Chavez and Maduro resorting to something that normally outrages all of Hollywood — censorship?
Chavez and Maduro hid behind a veil of upright elections because their criminal activity was in the field of campaign abuses. Radio stations were closed down and television stations taken off the air for commentary critical of the leaders or in support of their opponents. How can film makers not be affected by this affront to free expression?
Moore has shown a similar avoidance of this hard truth with the case of Timothy Tracy, another American documentary filmmaker. Tracy was jailed last year while making a film about the contentious elections in Venezuela. Don’t let the truths get in the way of selling a political system you adore, right Mike?
Glover is another performer with a long-standing alliance with the oppressive leaders of Venezuela. A frequent visitor of Chavez, the actor had reasons beyond socialist favoritism to snuggle up with the leader. Chavez would use state money to fund a pet film project about a Haitian revolutionary Glover wanted to make, a move that angered domestic film makers. Glover has labeled Chavez “a social-champion of democracy”, apparently ignorant of–or more likely ignoring–the numerous threats to the democratic process enacted by Chavez.
You cannot in good conscience tout somebody as democratic who had moved to rewrite the country’s constitution to appoint himself President For Life.
Regarding the recent uprising Glover is clearly in Maduro’s corner. He has criticized any foreign influence on the uprising (not bothered by the Cuban military arriving to assist the violent government however) and he calls for support of, “the Constitutional democratic measures by which they manage the self-determination.”
A curious choice of words, considering the government once shut down a television station for announced threats to the constitution; the threat was the station was reading the constitution on the air, to show how the regime was in violation of said document.
Back in 2007 the star of House of Cards star was in Caracas and had a private meeting with Chavez. It was a closed-door affair, but the official government report detailed the actor and leader spoke at length on the country’s theatrical industry and political matters. Spacey was said to even offer his help in brokering a deal for captives being held in Colombia. (Makes sense–he did appear in The Negotiator, after all.)
It was not all light subjects. Part of their talks also revolved around the Chavez proposal to rewrite the national constitution. Spacey probably will not want to get too cozy with Maduro, since the President has now begun targeting cable television dramas. Then again, considering all on this list compromise their values to support an oppressive government Spacey may be back in Caracas very soon.