In a two-hour presentation before the permanent council at the Organization of American States, Colombian OAS ambassador Luis Alfonso Hoyos laid out a series of photos, videos, maps, satellite images and computer documents that Colombia claims show the rebels using Venezuela as a safe haven much the same way they were using Ecuador.
Mr. Hoyos also charged that Venezuela knows about the guerrilla camps—some of which have been there for a long time—and has done nothing about them. Indeed, the Venezuelan National Guard sometimes consorts with the rebels, Mr. Hoyos said.
Given this new information, Mr. Chávez’s reaction to Colombia’s 2008 incursion into Ecuador now looks logical. Bogotá justified that raid on the grounds that its appeals to Quito to go after FARC taking rest and relaxation in its territory had gone nowhere. Now we know that Mr. Chávez had reason to believe he would be next.
But Mr. Uribe launched a different sort of offensive on Thursday. Instead of a military operation, he bundled new intelligence on the FARC’s Venezuelan outposts and dropped it like a bomb on the OAS permanent council.
The facts were no surprise. For years, Bogotá has been complaining—with no shortage of proof—about the friendly treatment Venezuela gives the guerrillas. But by packaging and delivering the new evidence as he did, Mr. Uribe put Mr. Chávez, very publicly, on the spot. More importantly, he has forced the issue with his hemispheric counterparts.
Mr. Hoyos told the OAS that there are some 1,500 rebels across the border in more than 75 camps. There they regroup, organize, train and prepare explosives. This safe-haven status, he explained, produces more kidnapping and drug trafficking on both sides of the border. And more carnage in Colombia: Graphic photos of rebel victims flashed on a screen while he spoke.
Mr. Hoyos did not call for sanctions against Venezuela. Instead he asked for an international commission to verify Colombia’s claims. He promised that his government could provide the “precise coordinates” of farms and haciendas where the rebels are ensconced. “If what is there is only a little school and humble peasants, there would be no problem with an international commission to verify if Colombia’s accusation is not true,” Mr. Hoyos argued.
The gang at Gomez Palacio were responsible for 33 murders in three incidents, including the massacre of 17 people at a rented hall filled mainly with young adults. They fired more than 120 rounds into the crowd; it was the bullet casings that led investigators back to Gomez Palacio. The prison director and three of his henchmen have been placed under house arrest, although considering this story, that may wind up being more secure than prison anyway.
This should impress the truth on people, which is that the problem in Mexico isn’t American guns, or any kind of guns at all. The problem in Mexico is corruption.
The director, who recently met with Iranian President Ahmadinejad, also slammed the U.S. policy toward Iran as “horrible.”
“Iran isn’t necessarily the good guy,” said Stone. “[B]ut we don’t know the full story!”
The Scarface screenwriter had even more encouraging words for socialist Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who Stone called “a brave, blunt, earthy” man. The director has recently been promoting his Chavez-praising documentary called “South of the Border.”
When the interviewer pointed out that Chavez has had a less-than-stellar record on human rights, Stone immediately dismissed the criticism.
“The internet’s fully free [in Venezuela],” said Stone. “You can say what the hell you like. Compare it with all the other countries: Mexico, Guatemala, above all Colombia, which is a joke.”
While Stone has not been as blunt about his views on Jews and the Holocaust in the past, he has been outspoken in his fondness for Chavez and his disagreements with the U.S.’s policy on Iran.
On ABC’s Good Morning America on July 28, the director told anchor George Stephanopoulos that he “absolutely” believes Chavez is a good person, and claimed that there was “there’s no pattern of censorship in this country [Venezuela].”
At first, Spain’s foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos assured everyone that the 52 Cuban prisoners of conscience that are supposed to be released and shipped to Spain can return to Cuba whenever they like. The release was not a forced exile, he declared to reporters.
Now, however, he is beginning to qualify that statement by saying that Spain cannot guarantee that the Cuban dictatorship will authorize their return.
As part of those efforts, Venezuela and Ecuador on Tuesday will carry out their first binational transaction through the Unique System for Regional Equalization (SUCRE), to reduce costs and avoid dependence on the U.S. dollar.
But Stone also revealed at Friday night’s showing in Santa Monica that the documentary wasn’t about box office returns. No, he’s more concerned about showing it through “the cultural circuit” to impressionable audiences with little knowledge of Latin America.
“We’ve got demand from a lot of universities,” Stone said, for “as many as possible to see it.” It’ll play on TV next year too, he said.
During the floods in Brazil that kept Lula from the G20 (h/t Roissy, who looks at the betaness of it all, I think the guy carrying the girls would have carried the day had he used a Rhett Butler technique.)
While the film’s major focus is on Mr. Chávez, it also covers Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Brazil’s Lula da Silva, Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner, Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, and Fidel Castro’s younger brother, Raul. By Mr. Stone’s lights, all of these heads of state should be celebrated for daring to take on our country, the imperialist giant. “It is the big story that hasn’t been told,” Mr. Stone said. “These leaders are being trashed as dictators because our leaders don’t like them.”
The film depicts the ups and downs of Mr. Chávez’s rise to power, including his failed 1992 coup. It recounts how he was saved from death by armed forces loyal to him, and was brought back to power in large part by Gen. Raul Baduel. The general is shown discussing the role he played in Mr. Chávez’s restoration.
A small detail Mr. Stone conveniently leaves out is that in 2009, Gen. Baduel, who Mr. Chávez had appointed as defense minister, was stripped of power, indicted for corruption, and imprisoned because he had opposed Mr. Chávez’s attempts to institute constitutional changes that would transform Venezuela into a formal dictatorship.
What Mr. Stone and his writers have presented is a standard far-left narrative that is part of a long line of propaganda films, a modern American version of the old agitprop. There are no dissenting voices in this film. Nor is there any mention of the fact that Mr. Chávez has closed down television and radio stations that disagree with him and arrested dissenting political figures.
Another sin of omission: Mr. Stone makes no mention of Chile, which in the 1970s embraced economic liberalization and successfully reduced poverty much more than Mr. Chávez has managed to do in his own country. As writer Tariq Ali argued after the film ended, even under the recent socialist government Chile did not make the kind of structural Marxist changes that he and Mr. Stone believe is necessary for real change. Thus moderate leftist countries south of our border simply don’t count as “progressive.” Perhaps that’s why the filmmakers only praise those regimes that use their elected office to quickly institute an end to all limitations on their power.
Those interested in the truth about Latin America should save their money when “South of the Border” opens this weekend, and rent Ofra Bikel’s “The Hugo Chavez Show” from Netflix, or watch it for free on the PBS Frontline website instead.
Speaking of which, here’s FrontLine’s The Hugo Chavez Show, and the first part in YouTube,
The bit in the [New York Times] article that caught my attention though, was this:
Instead Mr. Stone relies heavily on the account of Gregory Wilpert, who witnessed some of the exchange of gunfire and is described as an American academic. But Mr. Wilpert is also the husband of Mr. Chávez’s consul-general in New York, Carol Delgado, and a longtime editor and president of the board of a Web site, Venezuelanalysis.com, set up with donations from the Venezuelan government, affiliations that Mr. Stone does not disclose.
For years I have been following the activities of Gregory Wilpert, arguing that he was nothing more than a paid propagandist, for I was convinced that, unless some benefit was derived, no one with a right mind would risk reputation defending Chavez so passionately, as Wilpert has done. Then I found out that the site he edits was registered and set up by Chavez’s Consul in San Francisco, and it was further revealed to me that Wilpert was married to a chavista: Chavez’s Consul in New York. I got to admit, some fanatics, Wilpert included, did write to me to say that my expose of Wilpert’s connections meant nothing. I guess now that it has been printed in the New York Times I can feel vindicated.
“Stalin, Hitler, Mao, McCarthy — these people have been vilified pretty thoroughly by history,” Stone told reporters at the Television Critics Association’s semi-annual press tour in Pasadena.
Lovely touch of moral equivalence between two mass-murderer dictators who ruled with impunity and an alcoholic senator who was taken down by a journalist, isn’t it?
That’s exactly why we “need” Oliver Stoned to explain it all to us, do we?
“Stalin has a complete other story,” Stone said. “Not to paint him as a hero, but to tell a more factual representation. He fought the German war machine more than any single person. We can’t judge people as only ‘bad’ or ‘good.’ Hitler is an easy scapegoat throughout history and its been used cheaply. He’s the product of a series of actions. It’s cause and effect … People in America don’t know the connection between WWI and WWII … I’ve been able to walk in Stalin’s shoes and Hitler’s shoes to understand their point of view. We’re going to educate our minds and liberalize them and broaden them. We want to move beyond opinions … Go into the funding of the Nazi party. How many American corporations were involved, from GM through IBM. Hitler is just a man who could have easily been assassinated.”
Of course! It’s all the evil American corporations’ fault! That must be it!
But why should anyone or anything be faulted? If Ollie really believes ” We can’t judge people as only ‘bad’ or ‘good,’” why bother have any judgment at all? Why not instead whore oneself with thugs, exactly the way Olly does with Hugo Chavez and that oil money.
Adolf and Stalin were not available for photo-ops
Stoned has the stones to refer to history as “events that at the time went under-reported, but crucially shaped America’s unique and complex history of the last 60 years,” such as,
President Harry Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan and the origins of the Cold War with the Soviet Union.
since, of course, the media didn’t bother on either two “event”. But it’s all about empathy with Olly,
“You cannot approach history unless you have empathy for the person you may hate”
Well, if you believe that, you’ll probably sit and watch Olly’s history rewrite… with empathy, of course.
Let’s just hope Ollie wasn’t the talent behind that FARC propaganda video doing the rounds which shows the lovely pastoral agrarian FARC “fighting capitalism single-handedly” because no one else does.
Here’s the video, if you don’t remember it from the other day,
After all, the FARC would tell you they have been “vilified pretty thoroughly” too.
His entourage has taken over the entire third floor of the luxury Hotel des Bains on the Lido near the festival venue, a Venezuelan journalist told AFP, adding that Chavez was under the protection of 26 bodyguards.
That’s four bodyguards short of Hugo’s other buddy and fellow fashionable traveling tyrant Muammar al-Qaddafi, who pitches his tent (except for New Jersey) with thirty female virgin bodyguards. There is no information available on the gender or purity of Hugo’s bodyguards.
I can’t decide whether the late Thomas Mann (since Mann’s character Gustav von Aschenbach stayed at the Hotel des Bains on the Lido) or the surgically-altered Joan Rivers would be the most appropriate person to review Hugo’s stay, but will post photos of Hugo on the red carpet once I find them.
While in Venice, Hugo and Oliver may have a chance to get together with fellow traveler Michael Moore and deplore capitalism
Blending his trademark humor with tragic individual stories, archive footage and publicity stunts, the 55-year-old launches an all out attack on the capitalist system, arguing that it benefits the rich and condemns millions to poverty.
Because nothing spells sincerity as bemoaning riches in the style one has become accustomed to while at one of the word’s premiere luxury settings.
The saccharine conventions of showbusiness were thrown out of the window last week, when the Hollywood actress Maria Conchita Alonso was collared by paparazzi and asked if she was pleased about her former co-star Sean Penn’s recent Oscar victory.
“He’s an amazing actor. I can’t take that away from him,” she said of Penn, who worked with her on the 1988 cop film Colors. “It’s just that he has no clue at all what’s going on in Venezuela. He’s been praising Hugo Chavez, who is a dictator and a killer. He should shut up about what he doesn’t know.” Alonso, who was raised in Venezuela, was apparently upset by a glowing article that Penn had written for The Nation magazine about her homeland’s charismatic but increasingly dictatorial left-wing President.
In normal circumstances, Alonso’s interview might have been brushed under the carpet. But for the first time a Hollywood insider was saying what much of America thinks: left-wing luvvies in the movie business should wake up to the real nature of their hero. For one thing, Mr Chavez throughout his career has criticised Hollywood as a medium of American “cultural imperialism”. And Penn, who since his Oscar-winning performance in Milk has become a vociferous gay rights activist, is also open to allegations of hypocrisy.
The article came out in the UK’s Independent, which, unlike US newspapers dares point out,
The Venezuelan leader’s political hero, Fidel Castro, imprisoned and executed gay men, and once declared: “In this country [Cuba] there are no homosexuals.”
Benicio, unlike Maria Conchita, continued to display his characteristic cluelessness:
On Thursday, Benicio del Toro made headlines when he took tea with Mr Chavez at his palace in Caracas. The actor, in Venezuela to promote Steven Soderbergh’s film Che, told journalists that his host was “nice” and that he’d “had a good time”. Del Toro’s comments caused apoplexy on the political right in the US, but lately even Democrats have been perturbed by Mr Chavez’s intolerance of media criticism and political opposition.
Not that Benicio and Penn are alone: Danny Glover’s already fed at the petrodollar trough, receiving $18 million to make 2 movies; Oliver Stone’s making a biopic of Chavez, and Harry Belafonte schoomzes with Chavez as often as he can. Maybe they should all get together and make an Ocean’s 11 with Hugo as the casino owner?
Readers of this blog know Maria Conchita has spoken the truth about Venezuela in the past.