Who is Hugo Chavez?

I have to admit, before I saw this film, I’d only followed the situation in Venezuela on a cursory level. I knew Hugo Chavez was better than the presidents who had preceded him in Venezuela, but I had also bought some of the pervasive right-wing propaganda against him. After seeing The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, I’ve become a believer in Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela.

President Chavez seems to be a quite ordinary, working class person of color – but also an extraordinary leader. His first comments captured on film after he was returned to the Presidential Palace after the coup were something like, “I knew that we, the people, would win.” It wasn’t about him. It was about what the will of the majority wanted. It was about what the constitution demanded.

His first broadcast to the people of Venezuela after the coup was directed toward calm and reconciliation. This was amazing for me to see. If he was as brutal as U.S. media portrayed him, he would have incited his followers to go after those who supported the coup. Instead, he said to those who dissented, “go ahead and disagree with me.” No squashing of dissent there. Quite a contrast from the restricted freedom of the press known for decades under the ruling oligarchy of Venezuela.

The film has a number of candid moments with Chavez. One of the most striking was his recalling his grandfather, who was deemed a “killer” by his grandmother. As Chavez studied who his grandfather was, he found out he was not killer – he was a revolutionary. And that is what Chavez has striven to be.

A terrific documentary by Irish film-makers who happened to be in the middle of their production during the coup shows once again that we can’t trust the corporate media.

– Todd Tollefson (commiett@yahoo.com)