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News > Latin America

Hugo Chavez Series 'El Comandante' Tries Hard to Demonize Hero

  • The late President Hugo Chavez was loved by the Venezuelan masses.

    The late President Hugo Chavez was loved by the Venezuelan masses. | Photo: Reuters

Published 5 March 2017

The series was released on January 30 by the Colombian channel RCN but received very low ratings according to La W Radio.

The series "El Comandante," based on the life of the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is yet another attempt to vilify what polls say was the most popular president in Venezuela's history.

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According to the Venezuelan government, it tries to undermine the social gains of the Bolivarian Revolution in South America and its effect on equality and the social justice wave in Latin America.

"They are so afraid of Chavez that they are inventing a series to try to discredit a true popular leader of the people of America and the world and they won't be able to, but we have to fight back," said Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro.

Maduro said the series implies that Chavez and his government revolved around women and power, leaving out the profound transformation in education, health and social programs that he implemented in the country.

"The testimony of those who accompanied Hugo Chavez, in every memory, in every smile, in every tear, in every struggle and alongside the people who know the true Chavez, that is the basis for not allowing him to be discredited," said Maduro.

He said that with this film, the producers seek to hurt Chavez's memory and believes they should have asked for permission from the late president's family. He added, that whatever its enemies do, the Venezuelan people know very well who Chavez is.

Moises Naim, a former minister during several right-wing governments in Venezuela, was one of the producers of the series. He's an analyst and writer who was a strong critic of Chavez and his government.

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As minister of industry and commerce during the second government of Carlos Andres Perez, Naim implemented the "economic package" — mandated by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank — in February 1989.

These actions triggered the "Caracazo" protests against free-market policies in which as many as 3,000 people were killed during a massacre by the government. It also led to the military uprising of 1992, headed by Hugo Chavez, a colonel at the time.

Diosdado Cabello, former president of the national assembly, accused Naim of being linked to CIA activities against Venezuela. Cabello also denounced that one of the main financiers behind "El Comandante" was Hebert Garcia Plaza, a military man once close to Chavez and Maduro, who fled the country after a court in Caracas ordered his arrest under corruption charges.

"You know who put up money for it? Colleagues who were here with us ... colleagues who say they were not thieves and live in the U.S. comfortably," said Cabello. Naim in a recent interview said the deal with the producer, Sony Pictures Television, was a coincidence.

Sony, one of the biggest companies in movies and television in the world, only commented that the story "is a fictional series, inspired by Hugo Chavez."

"It is difficult for us to achieve, nor do we intend, to change someone's vision. Those who admire him will continue to do so and those who criticize him, too. What we are doing is dramatizing a part of the life of an iconic leader," said Juan Felipe Cano, one of the two directors.

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According to recent revelations by WikiLeaks, the U.S. government had tight relations with film producers at Sony to wage a "media war" and advance the administration's interest in foreign policy.

According to Naim, he's now working on a biographical series on Fidel Castro, the leader of the Cuban Revolution. During the trailer for the series, a character that appears to be depicting Castro is seen saying "with Chavez we are going to give a little surprise."

The government of Venezuela also criticized that the character of Hugo Chavez is played by Colombian actor Andres Parra, who is recognized for having played famous drug trafficker Pablo Escobar in the series by the same name. The government says that they tried to associate Chavez with Escobar, one of the most nefarious characters in the history of Colombia.

The series, which is set to broadcast 60 episodes, was released on January 30 by the Colombian channel RCN but got low ratings according to La W Radio, since it "only got four out of ten points in Colombian ratings," and was number 16 nationwide during its premiere. A day later it had dropped to 3.3 and ranked 20th according to Publimetro.

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