The Huffington Post is making some good reading re Venezuela these days. "The simple truth is that Oliver Stone does not know Venezuela very well. If he did, he would have spent more time addressing the arguments in my previous column, rather than attacking the messenger in his response." The words of Leopoldo Lopez, shaping up to be among - if not the - major opposition challenge to Hugo Chavez in the next Venezuelan presidential election. There seems to be an ongoing tit-for-tat between Stone and Lopez after Leo slated (rightly IMHO) Stone's polished and filtered political platform for Chavez in his film 'South of The Border'. Stone responded and yesterday Leo let's him have it with both barrels:
"To agree with Mr. Stone's position, one would have to disregard the growing mountain of evidence compiled by a list of credible and respected human rights organizations, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, and the Inter American Press Association"...Speaking of staged, even Tariq Ali, himself a fan of Chavez's revolution, who helped write the film's screenplay said: "It's hardly a secret that we support the other side. It's an opinionated documentary" [NYT, 25/06/10] so why Ollie is battling against others' opinions is beyond me, the old adage of "any publicity" I guess.
..."But let's remember, Mr. Stone does not know Venezuela very well. He has spent a few days here, always in the company of President Chavez. He admits he has not spoken with any opposition leaders, nor has he seen first hand the real Venezuela, as opposed to the 'staged' Venezuela that was presented to him."
A couple of things jump out from the articles: Stone claims that the human rights failures in Venezuela come from the right..."from Mr. Lopez and his allies". Complete and utter bollocks. And that "the victims of political violence to this day in Venezuela are also victims of the right - mostly poor peasants organizing for land reform, killed by landowners." Eh? They would dare. Or at least they didn't when there was some law and order; this didn't happen when I lived there so he seems to be admitting that safety and security is breaking down, as many have been saying.
The other point is linked to more recent news and Hugo the clown breaking off relations with Colombia, again. I've written about food shortgaes, less access to clean water, daily power outages etc and Leo lopez mentions these, plus the more worrying "sinister developments, especially in the border regions with Colombia, where people speak of an alarming growth in guerrilla activity, including the FARC." Why does Chavez deny this? The Venezuelan guerrilla groups were partly the subject of a Cuatro documentary last month: in a country now with 43 murders a day (and 140 per day wounded by gunfire) Why are these groups arming? Why is Chavez arming them? Worth watching, 52 minutes long including some ads, unfortunately only in Spanish. Scroll in 21 and half minutes for the bit re Petare hospital in Caracas where 80% of the patients are with bullet wounds: a hospital with no x-ray, the operating theatre doesn't work, no analgesics, no ambulances, no antibiotics...no bandages.
All the organised, armed groups - the main thrust of the video - have one thing in common: fighting for Chavez or fighting the opposition if Chavez fails, loses or is outsed. It's all been said before: "If Chávez wants us to react, we will": ominous and obvious.