June 9, 2010
Posted: 05:00 PM ET
OLIVER STONE WILL BE LARRY'S GUEST - TONIGHT!
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.
Go Behind The Scenes
LARRY KING LIVE'S Emmy-winning Senior Executive Producer Wendy Walker knows what it takes to make a great story.
With anecdotes, provocative emails, scandals, show transcripts and insights into Walker's long working relationship with Larry King, her new book PRODUCER issues readers an invitation to listen in on the most intriguing conversations on the planet.