June 9, 2010

Dispatch from Oliver Stone

Posted: 05:00 PM ET



May 28

I’ve just arrived in Caracas for the South American premiere of my new documentary South of the Border. I’ve arrived as a media war is heating up in Venezuela, spurred on by national elections in the fall and widespread reports in the international press that President Hugo Chávez is cracking down on the political opposition and the country’s financial institutions. Some are even alleging that he is a sponsor of terrorism.

President Chávez is a polarizing figure to be sure, widely demonized by U.S. reporters and cable news anchors who have broadcast claims that he is more dangerous than Osama Bin Laden. But is there any truth to these extreme assertions?

I was first invited to Venezuela to meet President Hugo Chávez during his aborted rescue mission of Colombian hostages, held by FARC, during Christmas of 2007. As is often the case, the man I met was not the man I’d read and heard about in the U.S. media. In the U.S. I kept hearing he was a dictator, a bad guy and a menace. But I found him to be a charismatic and dynamic figure, bent on helping his country emerge from the crushing weight of US political interests.

So in January 2009 I returned to Caracas and spent three days speaking with him. Our interviews were relaxed and informal. We sat around and talked, or ventured into the countryside touring agricultural areas, housing projects and factories that have flourished since he took office.  And a side of the man emerged that has rarely if ever been glimpsed in the US media.

I then set out across South America to interview his allies in the region – President Evo Morales of Bolivia, Lula da Silva of Brazil, Cristina Kirchner of Argentina, as well as her husband and ex-President Nestor Kirchner, Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, Rafael Correa of Ecuador and Raúl Castro of Cuba.  Leader after leader seemed to be saying the same thing. They wanted to control their own resources, strengthen regional ties, be treated as equals with the U.S., and pursue their own national economic and foreign policies. Out of these interviews emerged South of the Border, a political road movie that offers a portrait of a continent at the cross-roads of change and a new generation of political leaders with a collective determination to set their own political course.

Over the course of the next week, we’ll premiere the film in public venues across the continent, including the Plaza Bolivar in Caracas, and the first ever film premiere in the Cochabamba region of Bolivia – making good on the promise we made to the leaders in the film: to return to all of these countries to screen the film for their people.

So is President Chávez really the anti-American pariah we’ve read about for years? Is he really all that different from the other democratic, left-of-center leaders who now govern most of the region? I don’t believe so, but I encourage you to see South of the Border when it comes out in the U.S. in June and make up your own mind.

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Filed under: Entertainment • Oliver Stone

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LuLu Matthews   June 8th, 2010 9:13 pm ET

I need to know: In order to avoid the hellish condition in the Peruvian jail for the murder of a Peruvian citizen, he confess to the Natalie Holloway murder can the get extridited to Aruba to be delt with there avoiding the Peruvian Jail . Thank you.

IKHAN   June 8th, 2010 9:37 pm ET

Hi Larry,

Well Mr.Stone,
its in our psyche to demonize all & sundry who do not toe our line. The very reason that we are finding ourselves more isolated than those who we demonize, contrary to what our media would have us gullible Americans believe

Smith in Oregon   June 8th, 2010 10:34 pm ET

I would advise that Oliver Stone go with multiple body guards. It's very likely in my opinion the Bush Family values seek a violent end to Oliver Stone over Stone's documentary revealing the horrific Bush years.

Larry King, Ask Oliver Stone if he uncovered CIA backlash by the people across South America that either lost family members to terrible torture sessions, were blown-up, murdered or simply disappeared. An awful lot of dark CIA programs, agendas and actions have taken place thru-out South America for decades. I'm wondering if Oliver Stone has run into some of that fall-out?

Ted   June 9th, 2010 8:46 am ET

The standard procedure of our government to be friend to all bloody dictators and despots who toe the line and follow the american orders, and to demonize any other head of state, who rather follow an independent policy.

We embargo Cuba since almost 50 years, causing suffering to the people, as Castro and his circle will always have what they need.
Castro threw out a bloody dictator and did we welcome him during 1961, we could have a normal relationship with that nation. This way he was forced to turn to the sovjets, causing us a lot of headache.

Do we make the same mistake with Hugo Chavez?

Smith in Oregon   June 9th, 2010 6:00 pm ET

How very sad that CNN's own Wolf Blitzer appears in the CNN Situation Room and has absolutely no understanding why Brazil and Turkey wouldn't back Sanctions against Iran.

Obviously Turkey had brokered a humanitarian mission to broker the small amount of slightly enriched Uranium that Iran has with a complete set of fuel rods that Brazil has for Iran's small medical reactor.

Obviously Turkey is very unhappy about 9 civilians on its Turkish Flagged cargo ship being executed by the Israeli Commando's in their attack upon the Gaza peace Food and Medical supply flotilla.

What is not so obvious but should certainly be known by CNN investigators is that for decades the CIA has supplied and trained the Kurdish Tribes directly across from Turkey's border. The CIA did that in hopes the Kurdish tribesmen would originally enter into Iran and attack Iranian troops. Later, the CIA hoped the Kurdish tribesmen would attack Saddam's troops. HOWEVER, many of the Kurdish Tribes had ancient disputes with the Turks living beside the border of both Iraq and Turkey and instead began slaughtering Turkish civilians. That continued until finally Turkey sent diplomats to the White House in America and demanded the CIA cease all such support and weapons supply to the Kurds period.

And Turkey has a great deal of leverage in the US-Middle East situation. A huge amount of US Military convoys travel thru Turkey to Afghanistan and to Iraq. The airspace over Turkey is also highly used by the US Military transport jets to ferry cargo to Afghanistan and to Iraq. ANY attack by Israel upon Iran would require its fighter-jets cross thru Turkey's airspace.

I strongly suggest Turkey realize that Israel now considers Turkey to be a enemy of Israel and react accordingly. Close Turkey's airspace to Israeli Jet's, stop all previous agreements Turkish Govt. and Turkish Military had with Israel AND tell America that any further Turkish civilian deaths by the Israeli Commando's or CIA armed Kurdish fighters will result in Turkey closing it's airspace to America's Jet's, and closing its borders to the US Military convoys.

Turkey should accept Russia's new good will and purchase multiple S-300 anti-aircraft missile batterys to add to their country in case Israeli Fighter Jet's decide to go rabid and bomb Turkey.

Efren   June 9th, 2010 9:06 pm ET

what's with Mr. Stone on wanting to get chummy with all these proven killers-dictators ? Doesn't he believe in democracy. Does he not know what these people (Chavez & Evo Morales) are doing to their countries ?

corina   June 9th, 2010 9:11 pm ET

I'm not going to see any other movie of this guy, obviously chavez didn't show him how improved our lives are right now! Venezuelans love their country, and now because of him, we are a country of immigrants.

William Dupont   June 9th, 2010 9:14 pm ET

You have to be kidding!
What a shame, Oliver Stone should have interviewed the thousands and thousands of Venezuelans that live in Miami because they have to, not because they want to.

Barbara   June 9th, 2010 9:15 pm ET

If Stone admires Chavez and his elk so much let him try living there. Stone is a smug limo liberal who truly knows nothing about the region ad its multitude of problems. How about interviewing some of the thousands of hard working Venezuelans who are now having their businesses taken away from them? What planet is this guy on? Scary dude.

Leonor   June 9th, 2010 9:15 pm ET

I would like to see Oliver Stone suffering life in Venezuela, being a victim of a kidnapping, or being unjustly imprisoned without a fair trial because of political reasons, then make a real documentary on the situation in Venezuela. How can Mr. Stone defend a man that has bent the law repeatedly to fit his needs and his ambitions, a dictator that is destroying Venezuela, a man that supports terrorism?

doreen and dave pastore   June 9th, 2010 9:16 pm ET

Chicagoland here
does Oliver have anything to say about his former Assistant Director: Gordon Boos?

MS   June 9th, 2010 9:17 pm ET

Are you kidding me??? the fact that you have Stone and Ventura talking about how great Chavez is...really? this is disgusting. I'm from Venezuela and freedom of speech doesn't not exist. You have been fooled Mr.'s okay, you are not the first one.

Christina   June 9th, 2010 9:19 pm ET

This is completely crazy! I have been to Venezuela 3 times and stayed with a family-friend there every single person I have encountered opposes Chavez. There is NO freedom of speech there– maybe Stone and Ventura should do some research with the REAL people of Venezuela. It is so sad! Venezuela is a great country with great people its too sad Chavez has to destroy it.

Dane   June 9th, 2010 9:23 pm ET

I would like to address this issue on venezuela. I lived in venezuela for two years and I am married to a venenzuelan. I couldn't disagree more with Mr. Stone. I know what Hugo Chavez stands for and why he is in office. I have first handed, lived and experienced Mr. Chavezs' manipulation and no he is not excepting of ant opposition. I am dumbfounded that Mr. stone has been duped by this man with a silver tounge.

patrimateo   June 9th, 2010 9:24 pm ET

to Oliver Stone and Jesse Ventura: just go to Venezuela and live there for three months, but please go and live in Petare, Catia, La Vega. Then come back and have a new inteview with Larry King.... then we can talk...

Olivia   June 9th, 2010 9:25 pm ET

Mr. Stone, I wonder how it would play if it was the other way around, if you were in Venezuela promoting a film glorifying one of Mr. Chavez foes, would you get any air time? I doubt it, as air time is more and more a monopoly of the government. It is just a question, don't get me wrong, I like the way our society works, the reason I'm happy to live here and not in Venezuela.

fred   June 9th, 2010 9:27 pm ET

Ask Mr. Stone whay happened to Radio Caracas, Global Vision, The mayors of Maracaibo etc. Why did Chavez's computer have intimate info with the FARC of Colombia etc. Why is Chavez oppress his political rivals by claiming they are spies. I have worked in Venezuela. I am sorry but Mr. Stone was taken for a ride and Jesse is talking out of rear end since he has never been to Venezuela how can he comment. I love Oliver as a fellow Vet but here he is really out of pace with what is going on. Sorry but I still dig Oliver as a premier Director of my Generation.

Angela   June 9th, 2010 9:33 pm ET

It is offending to see how people that had not experienced first hand the violence that we had for generations can dare to make such irresponsible comments. Make an idol out of a promoter of terrorist ideas like Chavez. He raised a statue of the biggest killer in Colombia in one of his parks and now wants a library named after him. People do not have access to milk or chicken. People do not have acces to basic necessities. TV channels were closed and opposition has been silenced.... some respect!!! Just because you shared drinks with the guy and because treated you as a king when you were there that doesn't make you an expert on latin america's politics, history or reality.
Respect the venezuelan people...respect the colombians!!!

Julie   June 9th, 2010 9:40 pm ET

To Mr. Oliver Stone and Jesse Ventura:

If Venezuela and Cuba are so great, why don't you go live there. Go make a living there and enjoy THEIR money and not from the American public!

sheilaweela   June 9th, 2010 9:40 pm ET

It boggles my mind that a movie director tells us that our media has so propagrandized us that we have no idea who chavez is and what he stands for. Oliver Stone uses movies to distort truths or rather just force his ideas on the public. It's like calling the kettle black.

Again, hollywood types feel their importance needs to be acknowledged. They live to rebel and point the finger at their own government. Gotta always be a big deal for these egomaniacs.

Andrea   June 9th, 2010 9:40 pm ET

It seems Oliver Stone is very willing to take everything that Chaves say at face Value. Stone kept emphasizing the fact that 6 Latin American Presidents support him, what he does not say is how that came to be. For example the Argentine government (the Kirchners) support him because they have to, Chaves bought a high % of the Argentine debt after they defaulted. Chaves openly sponsored the presidential campaigns of the presidents of Ecuador, Bolivia, and Nicaragua; they will off course support Chaves, they owe him their presidencies. Chaves also gives oil for free to these countries.
Now, Brazil's Lula is not trying to model his country after the Chaves Model, Lula simply stays away from the whole problem not taking sides (smart of him).

And then Stone easily disregard how Colombia, Peru, and Chile do not support Chaves, why, because those countries do not take the free oil from Chaves and do not let him interfere in their policy making.

Very disappointing to see Stone doing his job half way. He clearly did not make the effort to investigate does that oppose Chaves.

And more importantly, Stone does not address the fact that Chaves openly supports the FARC, a recognized terrorist organization!! and he claims that France congratulated when "he" freed Ingrid Betancour! Lord, Stone, just check your facts, this is information readily available, Chaves had nothing to do with Ingrid's rescue, the Colombian Military rescue her from her FARC captors, in an operations that Chaves himself praised for its cleaness.

Jim   June 9th, 2010 9:41 pm ET

Great show tonight Larry. I have to say as a visitor of Venezuela I thought it was a nice country and the people did not seem to have their hands tired nor their mouths bound. I do agree that our government tries to manipulate every little thing that goes on.
Thank you Oliver and Jesse. The congressman from Florida was a cookie cutter politician. Very well programmed.
Keep it up Larry.

masa   June 9th, 2010 9:51 pm ET

Oliver stone should not support president chevaz. What Rep. Mr mack explained about president chevaz is right that he is manipulate people in velezuela! Does oliver stone know many velezuela people in usa left their county because of Pres. Chevaz. Personal matter,but,,,He still give them hard time to made policy selfishly to ban exchanging usa dollar fromvelezuela money, using credit cards in usa etc. Mr stone better ask velezuela people in usa also and better resarch more before makeing the film to know what's the truth. President must be changed in fall for good!!!

Doug   June 9th, 2010 10:19 pm ET

Since when did the United States become the police or moral compass for South American countries? As long as Chaves stays in his own country, we should stay out of it entirely.

Carolyn hampson   June 9th, 2010 10:24 pm ET

Bravo Jesse Ventura! Of course oliver Stone is heroic-and right...but Ventura really came through an dmade Mack a fool. Amidst an almost total despair about this country, you 2 providd quite a moment of hope for me tonight.

Liz   June 10th, 2010 12:24 am ET

Stone and Ventura need to move to Chavez's dictatorship and live there for one year then come back and we will see what their story is then.

Ramon Gonzalez   June 10th, 2010 12:25 am ET

Please ask Oliver if he knows anything about the TV Channel closed by Chavez.
Ask him how many people he has sent to jail so far, just for expressing their voices.
How many dead people we have every day due to the increased delinquency.
How many poor people?

is Oliver getting paid by the venezuelan goverment to do this fil?
I bet he is


Esther   June 10th, 2010 12:39 am ET

It is frankly disturbing to watch and listen to educated American citizens glorify a man and a form of government that has destroyed a country, empoverish and divided it's people, has disseminated anti American sentiments accross a continent, has befriend enemies to the US, harbours terrorists and protects drug and weapons trafic. The things that money can do... It's shameful that any person who believes in freedom and has the priviledge to live in this grand country has the indecency to promote and admire a communist regimen.

sam   June 10th, 2010 12:40 am ET

Mr. Mack isn't saying anything. come on. Quick to criticize with nothing to stand on. His argument is extremely WEAK. Did someone really elect this guy?

Jane B   June 10th, 2010 3:55 am ET

I wish Stone and Ventura were on for the full hour. It was so enlightening to hear them. I'm looking forward to seeing Stone's movie-his others have been terrific. I just finished reading Ventura's book "American Conspiracies" and thought that it should be required reading for all high school students. The lies told about Sadaam to get us into a war should awaken everyone. We have no business interferring in other people's countries. But the military-industrial machine that Eisenhower warned us about exists on war and making enemies to fight. The official story of 9-11 is preposterous. The Easter Bunny and Santa Claus stories are more plausible. We need a true investigation-not the whitewash we got. To get the truth we have to read the foreign press-not our "mainstream media."

CroatianQueen   June 10th, 2010 5:56 am ET

Dear Oliver; thank you for opening the views( of some people @ least)...S.A. needs their own leaders and it´s about time it is finally for the people and not for the pockets of previous Dictators as it has been for decades. You are brave and I applaud your courage!
Cheers Mr. Piedra

Ted   June 10th, 2010 8:57 am ET

How stupid and igrorant are several of the blogs above!!

The proverb says: keep your friends at arms length, your enemies close to your chest!
We have a free country and everyone has the right to like anyone they want. We courted Saddam Hussein for many years, was he a better person than Chavez?
We must except that facts that our hey days of over 60 years are over and we cannot dictate the world anymore, so we should embrace both friends and foes.

Floridian   June 10th, 2010 10:02 am ET

i think that ventura, stone, and sean penn are totally deluded about Hugo Chavez.......and that they should go live in Venezuela for a year and then come back and talk Chavez at that point.

Loved the great posts from the likes of Wm. Dupont, andrea, esther, ramon gonzalez, efren and many other posters here....

Daniel   June 10th, 2010 10:06 am ET

Oliver Stone, Shame on you!.
Making a movie of Hugo Rafael Chavez SHAME ON YOU
Venezuela has been taking away from the Venezuelan; Hugo Chavez has used the profit from our oil to make personal campaign and to support other campaigns in South America. Wonder why other president like CK in Argentina and Evo Morelas in Ecuador support Chavez. MONEY TALKS!!!
Let me explain something to you Mr Oliver Stone, you need to understand that freedom of speech and private institution has been taken away from Venezuelan and our basic human rights have been violated many times from Chavez authorities.
Cuban people are in our Army making sure Chavez has the entire power of the country. The voting system (Electronically and manual) has been cheated in many ways. And the most important oil company called PDVSA now belongs to CHAVEZ as an entity.
I am a Civil Engineer from Venezuela and housing development and infrastructure in Venezuela has been abandon and the money for that purpose has gone to banks in the US, Dubai and Europe from the corruption that now is ten times worse than 10 years ago.
If you are going to talk about a Chavez get your facts rights and do something good to the society in lieu of making a movie about the biggest loser in tthe Venezuelan history.

Venezuelan   June 10th, 2010 12:02 pm ET

Dear all,
We the 65% of the Venezuelan population are really happy that Mr. Stone did this fantastic documentary. This is the true, we are happy people, we live well, we decided to have Hugo Chavez as our President and you all should respect our decision. Your make me wonder if you really know how our democracy works it seems you do not know. ALL negative COMMENTS shame on all of you for criticizing Mr. Stone without really knowing the true Venezuela, the true union of the South American people, the true union of the South American countries. Your politicians R or D (the same!) all they do is say that Hugo Chavez is a terrorist and that he helps Iran and drug trafficking . NO evidence of this, not true. I do not know who will win this war, it is a psychological war, fourth generation war, you are all influenced by the media and do not know the true.

IKHAN   June 10th, 2010 12:57 pm ET

@MS @Christina

sure we have 'freedom of speech' here in America. Look at what happened to & with the legendary Helen Thomas or why we are not allowed to read or hear what respected writers,professors like Naom Chomsky,Uri Avnery,Allan C.Broomfeld,Adam Horowitz,Philip Weiss & many others have to say to Americans.
Or why our main stream media would not or cannot let us hear what Jewish Voice for Peace or JStreet want Americans to know. Sure we have 'freedom of speech'.
@Smith in Oregon
its really laughable when seasoned & 'allegedly' politically savvy media persons like Wolf Blitzer begin asking wide eyed 'why Turkey & Brazil voted against us"?
My dear Mr.Blitzer you should know that we have our foreign policy all upside down. This policy carved during the Bush-Cheney era of infamy continues for this hapless nation of ours today.
WE are rapidly losing influence in the Middle East, a region vital to our geo-political & economic interests by our slavish allegiance to Israel & stance on Iran. Our crucial ally Turkey,a member of NATO demonstrated that. In fact Turkey was attacked by Israel in International waters & NATO was obligated to respond. That did not happen.
Our mishandling of Iran could cost us the two wars we are desperately fighting in Iraq & Afghanista, putting our troops at greater risk.
Countries in Latin America are moving out of our sphere of influence. Brazil & Venezuela are two very influential states in that region. We know what happened with the un-ending sanctions on Cuba.
In Asia both India & China are gradually moving towards world power status & cannot now be swayed to toe our line. Even in staunch loyals like Japan we see stirring of nationalism. The Korean peninsula has become a fragile place for us to find a sure footing.
We no longer have the resources or diplomatic skills to woo Africa to our side especially in the regions torn by civil wars.
Europe is disenchanted with us & simply goes along with us out of their inability or will to lead in world affairs, the general population there either scoffs at us or despises our policies.
So Mr.Blitzer there it is. You & other CNN analysts should know better.

Jorge Magaña   June 10th, 2010 1:51 pm ET

This is a crazy world, we keep investing billions in the Space Station, billions in SETI, billions in nuclear weapons, we have sent satellites beyond our solar system, companies keep creating techology to keep us buying and buying, but we do not have technology to shut off a pipe that is killing our planet.

Like somebody wrote, what rare ara us human beings, we do not ask to be born, we do not know how to live, but we do notwant to die.

About last night Oliver Stone and J. Ventura what smart guys, few people like those guys, great Americans.

My regards to CNN and Larry King Live, just the very best, # 1, no need to write more words.

Andreanoboa   June 10th, 2010 8:00 pm ET

It is imperative that the information aired in NEWS programing be accurate. Mr.Stone must be the most uniformed man on the politics of latin America. Free speech is a luxury no longer afforded to Venezuelan's. Countless journalist, and political figures have been jailed in terrible conditions for exposing the injustices of what can only be called a corrupt regime.The case of Oswaldo Alvarez Paz is just an example of a citizen jailed for expressing his opinion in a show just lIke Larry King Live. While the people starve and there is no medicine to be found thousand of pounds rotted away in containers because someone in the government was making millions. I just wonder how much President Chavez payed Mr. Stone in order to present such a biased and narrow point of view. If he is so enamored with his politics move down there. Where the whim of a men reigns supreme and injustice is the prevalent norm. As a Venezuelan I have lost my country, my family and my way of life.

Marlene King   June 10th, 2010 10:32 pm ET

I CAN NOT BELIVE WHAT I'M WATCHING!!!!!! Please STONE and if you guys love chavez so much, go and live there in Venezuela with him you will love ittttttttttt!!!!

Jessie from Auckland, NZ   June 11th, 2010 5:21 am ET

I don't like the look and sound of this President Chavez. He scares me.

Avg Joe   June 13th, 2010 3:25 am ET

Republicans should tread lightly here.
Ventura is a voice that may seem damaging but in reality in light of the fact, he's a bridge.
Opinions may seem to at odds, but what he represents is a far right liberal opinion.
A man that embodies criticism of some policies, but in fact as well embodies strength. His experience with the vietnam war, and as well his criticism of the main stream may at first view give impression of a "hippie" but the man is anything but.
I have no doubt in a second that if N. America were under any attack perse, he would be the first to rally a strong war cry.
What he is doing is making people think about the reprecussions of their actions – not in a pacifistic sort of way, but an interesting hybrid.
View the ramifications of cause/effect, but ultimately in the aftermath deal with it and be proud of it.
If any media agenda because of his "agaisnt the grain" thinking comes about, it's in ignorance.
He's an odd sort. He asks the hard questions, but he has no problem in dealing with the worst of circumstance.
Quote the movie predator lol;
"a sexual Tyrannosaurus" ^^
Sometimes the best contributors are not the ones reciting what we want, but the ones that have no fear in going where others would never tread.
This man has no fear, and from an unbiased, un "political" sway point of view, that has to be of some value.

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