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'Number one US target': Oliver Stone calls media coverage of Venezuela 'shameful'

Published time: April 13, 2013 03:49
Edited time: April 13, 2013 14:51

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez (L) and US director Oliver Stone arrive for the screening of "South of the border" at the Venice film festival on September 7, 2009. (AFP Photo / Damien Meyer)

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Venezuela is the top target for US media, not to mention the State Department, legendary director Oliver Stone said at a special screening of his film on Hugo Chavez. Sunday's vote is a choice between two very different futures for Venezuela, he said.

American filmmaker Oliver Stone, whose 2009 film “South of the Border” attempted to help Chavez’s image in the US, bemoaned the western media’s portrayal of Chavez as a clownish thorn-in-the-side of democracy. When asked about the perception that US President Barack Obama betrayed the country, Stone reminded the audience that the people of Venezuela will ultimately be responsible for their own success on the global stage.

“I think you’re on the right path,” he said.

“The United States is a system and whoever is president seems to be sucked into this no-choice kind of situation but history has shown us the curve of ball can always break differently. We emphasize that point, there are always breaks. All of a sudden a Martin Luther King comes up, all of a sudden protestors against the Vietnam War come up, all of a sudden people turn down Hillary Clinton, who was the supposed front runner and they go with this semi-black candidate. Surprises are always in the air. What you think is going happen never happens.” Acting President Nicolas Maduro, Chavez’s handpicked successor, is favored to win this weekend’s election over opposition challenger Henrique Capriles. Whatever the result, Stone said, there will be great pressure from outside the country because of Venezuela’s oil supply.

“These bastards can be very upsetting and overwhelming but I always think that we have a lifesaver somewhere and there’s some kind of light that dawns on us as a people and as a world.” The filmmaker known for “JFK,” “Platoon,” “Born on the fourth of July,” and many others as well as “South of the Border” had harsh words for media outlets that spent years painting Chavez in an unfavorable light.

“As a New Yorker and following the New York Times for a long time I am still stunned by how negative these articles have been for so long,” Stone added. “About some of the worst regimes in the world there has never been this amount of coverage. I doubt Adolf Hitler has gotten this much coverage in Germany. These lies and distortions are a shame on them, it’s a disgrace.” 

“I would say that Venezuela is the number one target of the United States media and the State Department that exists today. The covert actions that are going on in Venezuela are very scary. I don’t want to be in Nicholas Maduro’s shoes. I’d hate to be him because he’s in a new spotlight,” the director continued.

“They can’t go after him personally but it’s a very scary position to inherit this gigantic power. I’m sure Castro felt the same thing many years ago. This is a tough moment for Venezuela and I hope the people stick together. This is not going away. Even if he wins the election I think the United States is going to be pouring on the heat in the coming months. You’re going to see reactions and more stories. Venezuela is very important to the US and all of Latin America.”

Seated next to Stone was Miguel Tinker Salas, a Latin American historian and professor at Pomona College who specializes in Venezuelan studies. After discussing Hugo Chavez’s impact on the region Salas compared the current political atmosphere to that of the United States before the election last year that saw Americans reinstate Obama into the White House.

Supporters of Venezuelan acting President and presidential candidate Nicolas Maduro cheer during his closing campaign rally in Caracas on April 11, 2013 ahead of the April 14th presidential election. (AFP Photo / Luis Acosta)

“ What’s at stake is really two different visions of Venezuela, two different visions of Latin America, and two different visions of how the north and the south should relate to each other. Fundamentally what’s at stake here is control over the largest oil reserve in the world,” Salas said.

“Previously there’s been a vision of Venezuela as connected to the US, as an oil-exporting country, as a nation rushing to join the first world, and one in which Venezuela is counter-imposed with the US as a model democracy.” But another future could be within sight.

“Or a vision of Venezuela that is part of Latin America that recognizes its own internal heritage and recognizes the solidarity it has with the rest of Latin America. Remember Venezuela was the first of the social conscious left governments to come to power in 1998,”
the professor continued.

“So what’s at stake is the future of progressive social movements in Latin America. Hundreds of thousands of people support the change that’s been going on in Venezuela. The opposition is much like the opposition Republicans in the US who say there’s a shifting demographic in the US. Imagine that – after running a campaign that actually tried to make targets of immigrants, women, gay people, and others now they want a shift. That’s the same reality in Venezuela.”

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