On March 5, 2014, several government-owned TV channels across Latin America showed the premiere of “Hugo mi Amigo” (Hugo my friend): A documentary film by Oliver Stone, produced in honor of the late totalitarian Venezuelan ruler Hugo Chávez.
The Latin American network Telesur called Chávez “the great figure of the Great Fatherland” a vindicator of the “people’s." Ninety percent of the financial backing of Telesur comes from the government of Venezuela, Cuba and Argentina.
Conspiracy theories abound on both sides: Socialist followers argued that Chávez had been poisoned by the CIA; his opponents claim that he really died in December 2012 in Cuba.
In this photo released by Miraflores Press Office, Venezuela's acting President Nicolas Maduro, second from left, speaks in front of the coffin containing the remains of Venezuela's late President Hugo Chavez after a symbolic swearing in ceremony at the military academy where the funeral ceremony was held earlier in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, March 8, 2013. (AP)
Conspiracies aside, and by coincidence, March 5, 2014 was this year’s Ash Wednesday in liturgy. Christians celebrate this day of fasting and penance as the beginning of the Lenten period. As a way to remind the faithful of Genesis 3:19, that “you are dust, and to dust you shall return" priests impose ashes on the forehead of parishioners.
Venezuelans have already been “fasting” and seen many ashes during these last 40 days. For that you have to thank the miracles of socialism.
The price of oil multiplied by ten during the socialist regime. But all the revenue from this oil rich country has not been enough to compensate for the destructive impact of the socialism and corruption of the current regime. Their government has been more active in subsidizing the Cuban economy and helping influence and buying elections in Latin American countries than in creating a healthy and prosperous environment for its citizens.
With approximately 2,000 murders per month, amounting to a killing every 21 minutes, 21st century Socialism has another dark spot on its record.
Venezuela ranks 160 out of 177 countries in the corruption perception index and dead last in respect of rule of law in the World Justice Project Index. It is the poor who suffer more violence and more corruption.
Venezuelans protest against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro along Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. Venezuela's opposition has been protesting for the last two weeks against rampant crime, over 50 percent inflation and shortages of basic goods. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
In addition, the socialist policies initiated by Chávez and continued by the regime of Nicolás Maduro caused empty shelves even for the most basic necessities, like toilet paper. The recent violent repression of student demonstrations by the government led to burnt cars, burnt properties, and many lives and dreams turned to ashes, especially for the 18 people killed.
“Hugo mi Amigo” hides these sad realities.
Although no abuse of human rights seems sufficient for the likes of Oliver Stone to distance themselves from the worse of Latin America, like the Cuban and Venezuelan regimes, not all artists have reacted in a similar fashion. Even left-wing sympathizers, like salsa star Rubén Blades, have changed their tone. Madonna, recent Oscar winner Jared Leto, and Kevin Spacey have spoken on behalf of the Venezuelan students and for increased freedoms.
Oliver Stone seems to care little about all the suffering. He was recently questioned about his hypocrisy.
The Future of Freedom Foundation, a libertarian organization, recently invited Stone to speak at a panel during a well-attended session at the Students for Liberty Annual Conference last month. While some U.S. and European libertarians enjoyed taking “selfies” and formal pictures with Stone, several of those who came from the countries oppressed by socialism used the opportunity to write an open letter which questioned his support for the Cuban and Venezuelan totalitarian regimes.
Oliver Stone and Hugo Chavez.
As reported by Fergus Hodgson of the Panampost, a student from Guatemala asked Stone “You are criticizing the overreach and the abuse of power and tyranny [of] your own government. Why and how do you draw the line in supporting other governments that do precisely that in other regions of the world, specifically those aligned with Socialism of the 21st Century?.”
The open letter stated the “that situations ‘south of the border’ are very different from those portrayed in your documentaries and other propaganda. We would like to publicly convey our utter disagreement with your support towards governments that restrict liberties in our side of the continent.”
Stone did not flinch. He reiterated his endorsement and in the following days, while the killings continued, he remained active tweeting to promote his documentary.
Raul Castro, the President of Cuba, traveled to Caracas and likely watched the premier of “Hugo mi Amigo.”
According to credible reports Cuba has close to 8,000 full-time military personnel in Venezuela and many more operatives. According to some estimates, Cuba receives approximately $13 billion in Venezuelan subsidized oil and is the real puppet master in the effort to win battles for communism in the Americas.
Oliver Stone and his favorite dictators might continue to laugh for some more time, but true freedom lovers will find a way to regrow the plant of liberty from the ashes of the failed policies of socialism.
Alejandro Antonio "Alex" Chafuen is President of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, and a trustee of Grove City College, contact him at email@example.com
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