Poor cancer-stricken Hugo Chavez is reportedly just about down for the count, and I’m sorry. His “breathing has deteriorated” due to “a new and severe respiratory infection,” leaving the Venezuelan president in “a very delicate state.”
Bolivan president Evo Morales, South of the Border director Oliver Stone, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez following 9.23.09 screening at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade theatre.
He knows what’s happening. He’s right there and feeling it all slip away and dealing with a lot of pain and probably a little bit of fear. Or maybe he’s past that. What’s to be scared of anyway? I’m not scared of dying, but I’m terrified of not being able to breathe.
I’ve always bought into Oliver Stone‘s view of Chavez, or the generally favorable view conveyed in Stone’s South of the Border (’10). It basically profiled the nativist South American leaders who came to power over the last dozen or so years, Chevez being one plus Bolivan president Evo Morales, Brazil’s Lula da Silva, Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner (along with her husband and ex-President Nestor Kirchner), Paraguay’s Fernando Lugo (who left office last year), and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa.
“It’s a pleasure and a relief to see a fair-minded, turn-the-other-cheek film about Chavez and the others,” I wrote in September ’09 about South of the Border. “Chavez has been at war with Venezuelan right-wing interests (including the TV stations) for most of the last seven years, and if he sleeps with both eyes closed for more than two hours he’ll be unseated. He isn’t perfect — who is? — but at least he belongs to Venezuela and Venezuela alone.”
Another film that persuaded me that Chavez was basically more of an honorable than a dishonorable man who was trying to buck the Venezuelan oligarchs and run his country in a Bolivarian fashion was Kim Bartley and Donnacha O’Briain‘s The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, which I first saw ten years ago at the Toronto Film Festival. It’s a somewhat slanted but rousing view of Chavez’s first three years in office and particularly the failed April 2002 right-wing coup against the Chavez government.
I wrote the following six or seven years ago: “Is Chavez an egotist and a bit of a bully in some respects? Maybe, but politics is a very rough game in Venezuela. Bartley and O’Briain’s doc basically says that Chavez is supported by the poor and disenfanchised, and is pretty much hated by the moneyed classes. It doesn’t mention anything about his support with the poor drying up because he’s failed to push reforms, so maybe that’s the case now.
“But the doc persuaded me that the righties tried to blame the leftist Chavez supporters for the shootings that happened before the April ’02 coup attempt, even though right-wing thugs were the clear provocateurs in this situation. The doc contended that the privately run TV companies are total mouthpieces for the oligarchs, and that they didn’t report the truth of what was happening during the counter-coup and in fact spread lies.
“Chavez has been at war with Venezuelan right-wing interests (including the TV stations) for most of the last seven years, and if he sleeps with both eyes closed for more than two hours he’ll be unseated. He isn’t perfect — who is? — but at least he belongs to Venezuela and Venezuela alone.”
And soon, apparently, to the ages.