Monday, August 20, 2007
Sean Penn and Hugo Chavez
What did Sean Penn tell Hugo Chavez during his recent visit to Venezuela?
FACT FINDER: Actor Sean Penn gets the lowdown from Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez during his visit to Venezuela in early August. (Photos: Juan Carlos Solorzano and Marcelo Garcia /Prensa Presidencial)
BY MICHAEL ROWAN
Transposing Sean Penn's strong but silent film character to his private conversation with President Chavez, these are the questions one imagines he asked:
"I like what I see. You are the new Che. And you sure talk right about Bush. But are you walking the talk?
"Why are 1.8 million poor families waiting for houses while you are spending $5 billion on surface-to-air missiles, naval frigates, submarines, fighter jets and killing machines?
"Why are the military guys hiding their Rolexes up their sleeves when they shake hands with me?
"What's this about cocaine deliveries from Venezuela to the US going from 50 to 250 tons per year? Who's profiting from all that?
"Why do you have to produce all this black excrement for California SUV's? That's hard to take. Isn't there a way you could get into solar power? You've got some big time sun here.
"Why are you giving $200 million in discounted oil to Americans when half these poor Venezuelans wearing red shirts and screaming your name are living on $1 a day?
"What's so smart about putting 100,000 assault rifles in the hands of untrained teenagers wearing a uniform for the first time? Crap like that got the US in big trouble, especially in Columbine High School and Virginia Tech.
"How come I see bootlegged DVD's of my movies selling for a few Bolivars on the street? That's stealing the labor of a comrade, my man, not exactly what Marx had in mind, right?.
"What I'm hearing is a lot of talk about peace in Iraq but also, war in Venezuela. I'm here writing for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. So this part is getting hard for me to play. Mind if I ask Danny Glover to stand in for me on this one? I mean, Danny's got $20 million coming his way from you, isn't that right, I mean, doesn't he owe you one?"
We don't know if the real Sean Penn asked the questions Sean Penn the actor might ask, but we do know what President Chavez said to him: "Sean Penn came here in search of the truth, to see the reality with his own eyes, tired of them (the Americans) lying to him. Sean Penn, thank you, thank you, thank you." These last words Chavez actually uttered in the language of the Empire.
Michael Rowan is the author of Getting Over Chavez and Poverty. This column originally appeared in El Universal, Caracas. Republished with permission from the author.
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According to the mainstream press, journalists in Venezuela aren´t allowed to write articles like that. Is Michael Rowan in prison now for writing this?
Good observation, Charles! The mainstream press has been wrong about press freedoms in Venezuela -- journalists can write anything they wish. No censorship exists.
President Chavez has improved the Venezuelan system of tax and customs collections substantially. The vast majority of Venezuelans are happy to have free medical care, cheap food, free public education, including at the university level, and new government housing. The Venezuelan economy is booming, as is their democracy. Why not write, instead, about the devastation caused by the Bush Administration to U.S. democracy and its economy?
I was in Caracas a week ago. What would be the visible demonstration of a "booming economy"? The shacks on the hillsides made of carboard and tin? The twenty story apartment buildings where every window and balcony is barred against theft and attack? All private homes with barbed wire fences?
You may have oil but you have a long way to go to civilization.
Wow, I was skimming through the story, and I thought, "Did Sean Penn really ask these questions? These are excellent, and well thought out. I didn't realize he (Penn) was so smart." Then I realized what the article was about.
Ha, ha, ha! Very funny!
Bravo, Michael for unmasking this demagog. It is obvious that this uneducated, military brute values only one thing and that is himself. He is playing violin solos to himself while his country burns. He will eventually fall, but in the meantime Venezuela is falling behind the rest of Latin America.
I have some questions for you now: Is everything on this site so biased? Are you afraid of what will happen if you stop demonizing Hugo Chavez?
All that military hardware is to replace a lot of obsolete junk. The army rifles alone were more than 50 years old and are just now being replaced! Why are you not reporting on that?
Also, why are you not reporting that Chavez bought those new planes from Russia because the US reneged on its contract to service the existing F-16s, and embargoed any other country from doing so?
Should the Venezuelan military be forced to make do with junk, when they have to defend the largest oil reserves on the planet?
When I read: From: Carin, San Diego, I thought Carin was talking about the homeless or one of the many ghettos you find in every medium or large American city.
From: Arturo Hassan Antomeza
Los Angeles, California
Simón Bolívar was a Freemason who was raised in the Scottish Rite. Since Communism also denies the very existence of a higher being, a practising Communist could not become a Mason.
If Sean Penn had asked those questions, he would have learned that no government has done more for housing than the Chavez government, that Chile's military spending dwarfs Venezuela's, that most of Venezuela's electricity is generated by renewable sources, that bootlegging occurs all over the world including the US, and that socialism will create a more peaceful society than the ruthless capitalism of the US--note that murder rates have increased under Bush.
Why does Venezuela have to buy weapons? To defend against US aggression. You know the "political parties" which receive their funding directly from NED a part of the US government.
If you people think Chavez is such a great leader and that Venezuela is such a great country...........why don't you ALL pack your bags and go over there and live. Seems to me like you have nothing good to say about the USA, anyway. I for one will stand on the shores of America and wave at you as you leave. That goes for you too, Sean Penn.