Oliver Stone living in Venezuela?
HollywoodNews.com: It’s the 3rd round of what could turn out to be a 12 round fight between filmmaker Oliver Stone, and Leopoldo Lopez, Venezuela’s most prominent opposition leader. He is the architect of a powerful new movement that promises to unite Venezuelans behind an alternative vision of democracy, free enterprise, and social change. The 38-year-old Harvard educated leader is the face of a new future for Venezuela: Democratic, inclusive, and solution-oriented.
The Associated Press calls Lopez “the man who is challenging President Hugo Chavez’s grip on power.” According to the “Washington Post,” he “represents a fresh generation” of Venezuelan leaders. “Caracas Chronicles” calls him “an early front-runner for the 2012 opposition Presidential nomination.”
Lopez was mayor of Chacao from 2000 to 2008. He won Transparency International’s Award for the most transparent municipality in Venezuela. In 2009 he founded Voluntad Popular, a social organization with the goal of promoting democracy and human rights.
For the past month, Stone has been promoting his documentary, “South of the Border,” which lionizes Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. There’s a revolution underway in South America, but most of the world doesn’t know it. Oliver Stone sets out on a road trip across five countries to explore the social and political movements as well as the mainstream media’s misperception of South America while interviewing seven of its elected presidents. In casual conversations with Presidents Hugo Chávez (Venezuela), Evo Morales (Bolivia), Lula da Silva (Brazil), Cristina Kirchner (Argentina), as well as her husband and ex-President Nėstor Kirchner, Fernando Lugo (Paraguay), Rafael Correa (Ecuador), and Raúl Castro (Cuba), Stone gains unprecedented access and sheds new light upon the exciting transformations in the region.
Leopoldo Lopez, whom many experts regard as the most serious challenger to Chavez in the next presidential election, took issue with Stone’s depiction of Chavez’s rule.
He laid out his case in an opinion piece titled, “Why Oliver Stone is Wrong About Venezuela.” In that piece, he wrote that the Stone’s version of Venezuela “could not be further from the truth. If you are among the millions living in barrios, you no longer trust that you will be protected, that services will be delivered, that your lights will stay on or that you will have access to clean water.” The article includes a statement from a mother describing her reality in which she says,
“As mothers we fight a silent war against the recruitment of our children by the elenos or the boliches (the ELN and the FBL guerrilla groups),” she told me. “If we say something we risk our lives, walls listen in El Nula.”
The government officially denies the presence of these groups in Venezuelan territory. However, those who live here say the groups are so pervasive that they now have absolute control of everything from gasoline distribution to the management of the health centers and the police. A middle aged shop owner who survived a recent kidnapping told me, “If you want something to get done you need to speak with the guerrillos, everything you tell the police or the army they will know, so its better to speak directly with them.”
It didn’t take long for Stone to respond with his own column, titled “Responding to Leopoldo Lopez.”
Stone complained that “Mr. López offers a ‘Tea Party’ view of Venezuela, in which everything that is wrong with the country is the fault of the left government, and Chávez — like Obama for the Tea Partiers — is a ‘dictator.'”
But my film argues the opposite. It’s just that the “assault on human rights” in Venezuela has come from the right, from Mr. Lopez and his allies. One of the first decrees by the coup government that Mr. Lopez supported was to abolish the elected Congress and the Supreme Court. Protesters were shot, and officials of the constitutional government arrested. And the victims of political violence to this day in Venezuela are also victims of the right – mostly poor peasants organizing for land reform, killed by landowners.
Today, it was Lopez’s turn again, and he used it to issue a “friendly challenge” to Stone to “come live here for several months” in order to witness Venezuela’s problems first hand.
“The simple truth is that Mr. Stone does not know Venezuela very well,” Lopez wrote.
“He has spent a few days here, always in the company of President Chavez. He admits he has not spoken with any opposition leaders, nor has he seen first hand the real Venezuela, as opposed to the “staged” Venezuela that was presented to him.”
Lopez said Stone should “rent an apartment in an ordinary neighborhood. Drive your own car, use taxis or public transportation. Don’t use a bodyguard. Don’t rely on privileges that the average Venezuelan wouldn’t have access to. If it is possible, live as though you have no relationship with President Chavez.”
“SOUTH OF THE BORDER” TRAILER