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Take Me to Your Leader: Venezuela

Hugo Chavez, 53, is the president of Venezuela. A while back, he addressed the UN General Assembly the day after George W. Bush declaring that the room stank of sulphur because "the devil" had been there. I wasn't quite sure if he was joking or serious, but it looks like Chavez is serious about his anti-American sentiment.

Chavez's irreverent and revolutionary positions have made him internationally controversial. Recently, he made the news for a failed referendum, his first major electoral defeat. The president hoped to centralize his power and remove term limits. Voters rejected the proposal by a slim margin.

Chavez, a former soldier, came to power in 1998 on the backs of soaring oil revenues and class unrest. As president he has nationalized major companies, asserted government control over oil projects, withdrawn from the International Monetary Fund and represented anti-American attitudes in Latin America. He has also cracked down on the freedom of the press often dominating television with his long-winded national addresses.

Still Interested? For additional info,

  • The New York Times Topic Page

  • Time Magazine Profile
  • Hugo Chavez vs. America
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    Join The Conversation
    pequeña pequeña 9 years
    Sayko, I see what your point is and I agree. It does make the board more interesting. Nevertheless, I think everyone should be able to give an opinion without being an expert on the subject. Unfortunately, I don't have any written source to prove my statement. All I can say is that the people I know that work for Chavez used to be prisoners from Pinochet, in Chile. They were tortured and finally an organisation saved them from death and brought them to London. Some of them just support Chavez, but a couple of them work directly for him. I think most of them stopped supporting him since the referendum, because they saw his real intentions. One of them still works for him though.
    remedios remedios 9 years
    Oooh.. I love McChesney's writing. (I read The Problem of the Media) That's all.. I don't see him mentioned much so figured I'd chime in on that. You all are doing just fine comparing Hilary, George, Hugo, and Adolf without me adding to the mix. ;-)
    syako syako 9 years
    Thanks for the info and links. I do agree with you about the dwindling of a "free press" in terms of the media being owned only by a few very large and wealthy corporations. I'd love to get more into McChesney's study of how the u.s. govt. influence the media. Is the American Al-Jazeera network a tv satellite station or radio station? I don't get it on cable. I also don't get BBC on cable, but I do frequent their site.
    minaminamina minaminamina 9 years
    Very well then - examine the CFR productions mission statements and expenditures - most of which are funded by American lobby groups to gain advantage. Also, I encourage you to look into Robert W. McChesney's study on current media influence from the US government, and Bill Moyer has devoted several months to educating PBS viewers on the danger their free media is under - can lead you to some more of that information. Now, if you want relatively censor-free media, radio is one of the few things left relatively untouched. NPR is a great resource, as is the BBC and the American Al-Jazeera network (really, watch it before you judge it). Good luck.
    syako syako 9 years
    and to min - congratulations on all those accolades. All I was asking is that you source what you say. Sure you have degrees and perhaps experience, but give me hard facts as to why the media act the way it does - and with your background that should be easy for you to do. Thanks.
    syako syako 9 years
    No. I'm not "snobbing." I'm just saying that it brings more to an argument (no matter who is making it, a journalist or a guy on the street) when he/she has real facts to back up the statements made. i.e. an article from a reputable source, or in your case, personal contact with people - which is an AWESOME first-hand source. In fact, you should have totally mentioned that in your initial comment and it would have given you a credibility that none of us have - seeing that I doubt few other commenters actually know people who work for Chavez. All I'm saying is I've taken part in many political blogs and the best way for them to work and to be healthy dialogue and debate is if the people who participate bring something to the table. Yes, an opinion is the main thing to bring - but participants should be able to back up their opinions with facts. If we continue to treat citizen sugar as a place where we just make broad sweeping statements with no facts or even ideas on why that statement is or is not true, we're really doing this blog a disfavor. I just hope that others share my sentiments on this one because I have a feeling that this new addition to sugar-land could be really enlightening for all of us and a great way for us to show how smart we all are!! ;)
    minaminamina minaminamina 9 years
    *from Yale
    minaminamina minaminamina 9 years
    Syako, I interned at CNN for 2 years during college as a historical fact-checker, have two bachelor's degrees, a masters in Yale, and am now working on my PhD - perhaps YOU are the one who is a little fuzzy on the details. I certainly know how American media works.
    pequeña pequeña 9 years
    Sayko - Maybe you didn't understand my point, maybe I didn't express myself the way I wanted, but I didn't mean to say that Bush is a dictator. He is not a dictator. Chavez is not one either, at least not yet, but he does have dictatorial behaviour, so that's why I said that he's "no better" than other dictators. But that's just an opinion. I think both Bush and Chavez have very similar behaviour sometimes. Again, just an opinion. The same way that Chavez claims that the United States are "the devil", Bush makes a list of countries called the "axis of evil". Those countries are Irak, Iran, North Corea, Libia, Siria and Cuba. The official explanation is that he attacked Irak because he has supposed to bring democracy there. America was "good" and had "God on his side". I don't know how things work in America, but if in Europe a president would repeatedly say that God is on his side, it would be something completely unethical and unacceptable. I'm not comparing them because I think they are both dictators, I'm comparing them because they have some points in common. I'm not a journalist, I'm just expressing my own opinion. As far as I'm concerned, a good journalist should be objective unless he's doing editorials or opinion. My opinion is subjective and it's obviously based on my knowledge of the subject, which is quite good since I have a lot of contact to people from Venezuela that work for Chavez. Don't snob others because you take for granted that we are not into journalism or academia. You could be wrong.
    syako syako 9 years
    And these broad statements like the U.S. not having a free press really would be more valid if you people sourced your info. I think it's such a stretch to say that. Man, I forget that people not in academia or journalism have no problems with making statements like this without facts...
    syako syako 9 years
    lol. OK. Seriously mr. mellow, I'm laughing out loud. My husband would LOVE IT if I really did compare hilary to hitler. Classic.
    minaminamina minaminamina 9 years
    I don't remember America having a free press - seems pretty privatized and well-funded by a certain few for personal or corporate gain. I think Chavez is just more blatant about limiting free press than Western countries are - I respect that more than the guise of free speech. And while he limits free press, there is still significant political rhetoric that is anti-Chavez that is aired, without being cut by the Venezuelan administration... so I guess if we're going to mis-label the guy a dictator, then I'll giggle a little about the irony in that...
    mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
    Syako: First off, Hitler was elected to power and then changed the laws to keep himself in power. Chavez attempted to put a referendum through to keep himself in power, but the people voted against this. So, at this point in time, Chavez is in power strictly because he was elected to this position and until he actually forces any change, he is not a dictator. But, as it seems these boards have made a new habit for me, I regress.... You are correct when you said that "Did we forget that Hitler was technically elected to power?" Actually, you further the point as seen below: "cine_lover : Sounds like Hilary..." "onabanana : -Hillary Clinton is not a socialist dictator and comments like that add nothing to the discussion at hand. Like her or not, give the women some respect. She for the most part has served her constituents well, If you don't like her don't vote for her but don't liken her to a dictator. -Hugo Chavez is a manipulative dictator who uses his country's wealth to buy the votes and silence of the people of Venezuela. Those who oppose him often find themselves in very difficult circumstances." "myself - Chavez is not a dictator, he was elected to power and is still in position as an elected President. Some people in Venezuela would say that Chavez has served his constituents well, that is why he has been re-elected." My comments imply that he was elected to power, as Hillary is trying to be, and that Chavez, like Hillary, "for the most part has served her constituents well." So, you're comment of "Did we forget that Hitler was technically elected to power?" actually helped to compare Hillary to Hitler. That comparison is even a little strong for my conservative view points, but to each their own.
    cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
    Well syako then maybe I don't understand your Hitler comment back. My bad.
    potc-crazyy potc-crazyy 9 years
    Well, at least he's amusing. The 'shut up' incident, moving the clock back 30 minutes, this guy is seriously wacko.
    syako syako 9 years
    no. I understand completely the comment by mellowman.
    raieven raieven 9 years
    Sounds like Hillary, are you serious? Get real.
    cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
    Syako, I don't think you understand the point that Mellowman was making.
    syako syako 9 years
    Chavez is not a dictator, he was elected to power Did we forget that Hitler was technically elected to power?
    cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
    And mymellowman, that is a great quote and so true.
    cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
    onabanana, that is what I personally feel Hilary is on the road to do if she becomes president.
    mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
    "When fascism comes to America, it will not be in brown and black shirts. It will not be with jackboots. It will be Nike sneakers and smiley shirts." - George Carlin
    onabanana onabanana 9 years
    yea but when you threaten to take away term limits, bully opponents, and take away freedom of speech etc, violate peoples fundamental rights,... at best he's a tyrant. Being elected doesn't mean good leadership. Rule of law is essential and it doesn't count if you keep changing the law to better fit your political needs. The poor in Venezuela support him because for the time being he is paying them with revenues from oil. Things seem great on the surface; however, he is at the same time eroding their rights, silencing their voices and he isn't investing in Venezuela's infrastructure. They have a lot of oil now, what happens when it runs out and they decide they've got something too say? Too bad no voice for you.
    mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
    Chavez is not a dictator, he was elected to power and is still in position as an elected President. Some people in Venezuela would say that Chavez has served his constituents well, that is why he has been re-elected.
    blondie01 blondie01 9 years
    hahaha cine_lover! this guy looks and acts the part of a dictator to perfection, I can't believe celebrities have met with this guy...what kind of message are they trying send?!
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