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The Hugo Chavez Show

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What do you think of Hugo Chávez, his savvy use of the media, and his plans for Venezuela's revolutionary future?

Dear FRONTLINE,

We should all be grateful that Hugo Chavez is trying to create a better society for Venezuela's poor.

This is in contrast to the leaders of Mexico and Central America, who encourage their poor to go to the United States to get their basics.

sandra malone
los angeles, california

Dear FRONTLINE,

as a reporter covering Latin America for the last 22 years I want to commend you on a job well done. I have followed the Chavez years along with my colleagues and visited Venezuela many times. I think you got the balance right.

The lack of concrete social achievements by the Chavez government is shocking, considering all the money spent. The Barrio Adentro program has its merits, but does not substitute for permanent healthcare solutions.Also, as a freelance documentary film producer/writer, I was very happy to see the traditional narrated format so well exploited.

Miami, Florida

Dear FRONTLINE,

I was very disappointed with your coverage of Chavez, especially the failed Coup attempt in 2002. The only mention of America's was a passing sentence referring to "rumors of US involvement." There's a lot more evidence about our involvement.Incidentally, the US State Department was one of the few organizations, besides the so-called "liberal" New York Times" to praise the coup.

Also, you referred to the television stations that broadcast the anti-Chavez footage that helped propel the coup as "independent." That is misleading at best. If you look at who owns those stations, you will see they are tied to the oil oligarchs.

I would urge anyone who is genuinely interested in the events of the 2002 coup, check out the film "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised." (It was on You Tube.) The events were captured brilliantly by an Irish film crew who happened to be filming in the presidential palace while the coup was happening.(Why doesn't PBS should broadcast this program?)

It's too bad that PBS is simply parroting the views of American Elites, who still cling the the interventionist, dictator coddling policies in South America. There has been an incredible democratic revolution going on throughout South America. Sadly, most Americans are ignorant of what happens ooutside our borders.

Robert Williams
Seattle, WA

Dear FRONTLINE,

I'm from Venezuela, but forced to leave the country due to the persecution, chaos and insecurity. Currently I'm living in Canada which has a government based on a real "socialist" system completely different than the one Chavez is attempting to establish. "The Hugo Chavez Show" as many people pointed out in this discussion is a very good and objective introduction about the situation Venezuela is facing with Chavez, but there is even more that what meets the eye. Chavez goal is just to seize the power and stay there no matter what, having the people practically as slaves same as Cuba. The documentary shows very interesting points of views and also depicts oportunist people with no shame like Mr. Wilmer Ruperti who's is taking advantage of the situation to get millionaire contracts (some of them avoiding legal procedures) while he's "reading poetry in his leisure time" all in "behalf of helping the people", people like that it has been said acts also as figureheads for the inner circle of power (Chavez, his family and closest aides) who are getting filthy rich with the oil income that belongs to the nation...again all "on behalf of the people. Just as an example, Chavez immediate family has lands and properties that increased significantly since they are in charge of power (absolute power corrupts) and at the same time they are promoting the idea of expropriate private property from people that really worked and made efforts to produce and progress. It is easy to exploit the resentment of the "have nots" through this, but at the end of the day nobody wins and the country will suffer the consequences. Although it is true that Chavez put on the table the social issue, that is, the majority of the population needs attention, that doesn't mean giving crumbles in exchange of support. A true socialist government should make the effort to help, provide incentive, encourage and teach the people to become productive along with the cooperation of the private sector. Chavez's government is based on accumulate power and destroy his opponents by implementing politics of exclusion: e.g. government offices have a "black list" with all the people that signed petitions for previous referendum to revoke Chavez mandate (a legal procedure included in the Constitution he promoted, which is currently in effect). If you happen to be in that list you cannot get a job with the government and neither in the private sector as the private companies with contracts with the government are pushed to get rid of people in their payroll that are in that list. As the show depicts, Chavez doesn't care and has no respect of different points of views and it is only his way or no way, he's is not able to accept a civilized debate of ideas, always he must be the one everybody listens with no reply at all. As a result, his government team only consists of mediocre people that only wants to seized the opportunity to get easily rich with no real effort by means of corrupt practices. The truly professional people that might be able to work and help is out of the Chavez picture because he does not want people who thinks around him.To help Venezuela to overcome this situation it is not a matter of political views or ideologies, not being from the left or right wing, it is just being practical and use common sense to help all the population to improve and develop as a civilized society. Think about that venezuelan leaders and politicians !!!...

Calgary, Alberta

Dear FRONTLINE,

Kudos on an excellent program!

The segment where Chavez "deals" with the question from the young Irish reporter is a priceless look at the group dynamics of fascism, never mind its more politically correct title of "21st-century socialism". This segment also proves that Chavez has still much to learn from his sensei, i.e. Castro. Let's hope Venezuelans wake up before it is too late.

Miguel Oyarzun
Arlington, VA

Dear FRONTLINE,

Congratulations Frontline!

Great Show, finally some truth about the hidden agenda of Socialist run countries and this maniac. I only wish you had the guts to release it before the election, because maybe America would have woke up, but now it's too late.

I think everyone in America needs to see this, the rhetoric, the promises of change, the champion of the poor, the Government control of business and media (look out, because your on the fairness doctorine hit list now too!).

Go back and listen to our new President's speeches and it sounds eerily like Chavez. We are in for a long ride, because it'll be the same excuse here, "it was a mess that Bush left, my first four years was not enough to fix it." We'll need to give him a chance and on and on, so now he needs another 4 years to fix it. Mark my words this is our future.

The real..reality.

Paul Shane
NYC, NY

Dear FRONTLINE,

All those Venezuelans and Americans that are saying that the program is bias, should go and live in Venezuela and experience living in fear and chaos for a while and then talk!! funny how all of them have Us addresses is very easy to defend Chavez while living in the US where you are truly free!!

Philadelphia, PA

Dear FRONTLINE,

At best it was a thinly veiled hatchet job with very little regard for journalistic or investigative integrity. It was marked by half-truths, an unwillingness to examine, beyond the soundbite, what has been truly accomplished in Venezuela. In search of a way to characterize Chavez as an autocrat and semi-dictator, the program totally ignored the manner in which democratic practices have provided him with defeats as well as victories as is the case with most (imperfect) democratic systems.

Regardless of one's feelings about Chavez, it is imperative that, in this age of entertainment and innuendo masquerading as news, that we have access to material that is clear-headed, unbiased and accurate. The Hugo Chavez Show, though not purporting to be 'news', presented itself with the same trappings as legitimate news. Therefore, it had the same responsibility to question itself and to examine its own assumptions.

That program was a shameful, display of disrespect for both the truth and for the audiences of PBS.

Joseph Jordan
Durham, NC

Dear FRONTLINE,

I was born in Cuba 8 years after Castro came to power. I lived my first 12 years of my life under the same conditions Chavez in Venezuela is trying to create. I went to Venezuela in the summer of 1993, by 1997 I was telling close friends inside Venezuela that were telling me about Chavez that the man sounds like a communist, walks like communist and must be a communist. They did not believe me when I told them that this man would turn Venezuela into another Cuba. Well, there it is. It is like looking into the past.

Spread the wealth and goverment control does not work and will never work.

Chavez has what Fidel did not have. Wealth of a nation. With this and his alliance to Iran, Russia, China, Syria, North Korea, Chavez is turning Venezuela into an axis of evil. One that can be very dangerous to it's citizens.

On my last trip this summer to Venezuela I witnessed the chaos that is going on, especially int the capital, Caracas.

Crime, trash not pick up and pile up high, high consumer prices, food shortage, no progress what so ever. And my God I though I never would see it again but yes up to three blocks of people lined up for goverment distribution of food, or even to obtain a simple piece of goverment issue document like a national ID.

So let this be a lesson to it's people. They wanted it and now they have it. Change came to Venazuela but to what price.

Let this be a lesson to the citizens of the USA. Just like Venezuela they wanted change and voted for Obama's "spread the wealth" and "bigger govertment" talk. As history has shown us, and it is showing us now, it does not work and will never work.

Miguel Fleitas
Boston, MA

Dear FRONTLINE,

Congratulations on the "Chavez Show". He is really a show that has already tired most of venezuelans.

It is very easy to talk about Chavez and his "well doing" to our country, when you don't live in it and have to suffer the lack of essential suplies for life.

When you have to separate from your children because there is no future for them in this country, due to the fact that your name appears in a list that the government has.

When after 15, 25 or 30 years working for PDVSA, you are kicked out without a cent. Not even being able to take out your own savings. When during 9 years, periodically, you have been visiting the Ministerio de Vivienda y Habitat to inquire about the status of your application for a house loan or house assignment, because you and two minor daughters don't have a house and have had to live at work for the last 11 years. And while Chavez has built houses in Cuba and Bolivia, we still have people from Vargas' disaster, living in shelters since 1999.

There are hundreds of dead people every week, from shot gun or stabbed, and we are not supposed to have a war going on. Do you really think this is life?

In spite of all the oil money we have received while Chavez has been in government, there are still millions in the country that do not have something as simple as running water, and it is not due to lack of resources. God blessed our land with many rivers.

Chavez has and is still lying to the people. All the money we have recived from the oil has been used for his purpose of becoming the next "Libertador".

Very little has been put to work for the benefit of venezuelans, except a few of his "comrades", that have become rich making "business" with the governmet. Ej.: Wilmer Ruperti, who was at one moment kicked out of PDVSA, when caught doing business on the side, with PDVSA's information. No wonder he is now rich. There is a spanish saying that fits him well: "Donkeys get together to scratch each other".

Venezuelans have proved to be patient, and little by little we will find and end to this nightmare. November 23 Regional elections have shown us that democratically, united and with votes, we can get the country we want. Not the old one, but a new one with justice, equity and prosperity.

Caracas, Venezuela

Dear FRONTLINE,

I watched this Frontline program with great interest.

Social change is always messy and when it is implemented too fast it can be chaotic. The United States was almost lost before it began when the revolutionaries made their break from England. Thankfully we had a populist minded, well-educated elite that was up to the task of thoughtfully researching the various eventualities.

In fact, I think we can see this today in Barack Obama. Unfortunately, Hugo Chavez may not be up to the task of implementing his well-intentioned populist vision.

Gregory Banks
Simsbury, Connecticut

Dear FRONTLINE,

I admired many of Chavez' statements and actions, like attempting to donate some of his country's oil wealth to Brooklyn and New Orleans residents, and his mock anti-sulfur"sanctification" of the UN podium, but Chavez according toyour program rules as a fear-instilling authoritarian dictator.But do not think that President-elect Obama has not focusedon the suspension of habeas corpus, in his President Lincolnliterature.

Friends who've visited Venezuala tell me the country is as divided about Chavez as we were in our election.

Chavez' repudiation of a free speech in closing down televisionstations and newspapers that disagreed with him is intolerable. As was his barring opposition candidates from running in the election and is also unacceptable.

In our country, where Karl Rove's people can call up the CPB and lean on it to slant its news to the right; or where thetwo main political parties sue to preclude third partyopponents in presidential elections, We could cast aspersions on Chavez from a slightly higher moral ground, were it not for our starting economic and political wars and maybe a little torture.

And as far as Chavez passing those 12 bills. Isn't thata little like George Bush?

Increasingly the CPB's (PBS) programming is more rightist, anti-labor, pro-corporation, and pro-war. You may never be able to report in Venezuela or from Air Force One again,as your reporting starts to resemble ABC's George S.

For more thorough and impartial television journalism, try CSPAN or Bill Moyers Journal.

Jeff Herrera
San Francisco, Ca

Dear FRONTLINE,

Why do you think they keep voting for Chavez for all his flaws? He has delivered something for those in need--all of which Frontlline never once mentioned, specifically

(a)his government health program for people who normally could not afford a doctor, (b)the dental program in which hundreds of thousands of poor have seen a dentist for the first time;(c)the subsidized food programs managed thru neighborhood coops run mostly by women,(d)the school lunch programs and no-fee schools for thousands of poor kids, (e)the job programs--admittedly inadequate in scope and duration--to clean up and repair poor neighborhoods, and (f)the loans to small businesses run by women.

All we got from your show was a focus on the man and the elections and not a word about the economic content of his "revolution."

Michael Parenti
Berkeley, California

Dear FRONTLINE,

Hugo Chavez used Venezuelas poor, disenfranchized population in his bid to rise to power. And it worked. He bused thousands of poor from the countryside into Caracas & Maracaibo to attend his ralies giving them a t-shirt and a sandwich. If he is to be considered savvy it would be in his knowledge that the poor would his winning ticket. He knows that by giving the poor a little attention & a small stipend they will follow him to the ends of the earth. Why? Because no one in recent history has done a thing for them.

If you ask Venezuela's middle class what they think of their president, they'll tell you he's a fraud. It doesn't take a lot of insight to see right through the man. His Sunday TV show clearly shows a man who is a bully, is paranoid, is egocentric, etc. He's divided the country, threatend to arrest opposition candidates, closed news services, failed to upgrade the country's infrastructure, and worst of all failed the poor.

But he's savvy, he knows that the poor will always be there for him even if he gives them the bare minumum. Why? Because no one, I repeat, no one ever gave them thing.

Michael Bass
San Diego, California

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you, Frontline, for such a wonderful program. As a US citizen, I am always glad to know more about the Americas. Anyone who watches this should feel a sense of injustice. While Chavez has been blow-harding on teevee, a great point was made about poverty, crime and the consequences of an incompetent leader. I couldn't help but draw a line from Chavez to Bush: each has made their oilmen friends wealthy, used the media and trampled on democracy to indulge their egos.

When Hugo remarked that he "smelled sulphur" after Bush was in a room, it would be reasonable to wonder if he was finally catching a whiff of himself, too.

Good luck, Venezuela - I'm on your side.

MJ Parlier
Chicago, IL

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posted november 19, 2008

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