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October 27, 2009
Michael Moore called cowardly liar and racist by Hugo Chavez supporters
Filmmaker Michael Moore will probably want to steer clear of one of his favorite leftist countries -- Hugo Chavez's Venezuela -- after he inadvertently insulted El Presidente and enraged the strongman's rabid supporters.
Chavez's devoted followers (no doubt at Chavez's behest) are deriding Moore as a liar, racist, and coward -- all for the filmmakers outrageous statements about their leader during an appearance on a late-night talk show, ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live." (A film clip of the Oct. 9th show may be seen here.)
Moore described a strange encounter with Chavez during last September's Venice Film Festival. Chavez was there for the screening of Oliver Stone's documentary "South of the Border," which is about Chavez and other leftist leaders in Latin America.
Moore said that during a 2 a.m. encounter in Chavez's hotel suite, he gave the strongman political advice and even helped him write a U.N. speech. The two also downed a bottle-and-a-half of tequila, Moore said.
It was too much for Chavez's thin-skinned supporters: Moore's preposterous story, they contend, is surely the product of a huge and creative ego. After all, nobody could possibly write a speech or give political advice to a man as brilliant as Hugo Chavez. Also, Chavez doesn't drink.
According to an article in Monday's New York Times, "Michael Moore Irks Supporters of Chavez," the controversy over Moore's comments is still reverberating in Venezuela. Simon Romero wrote that the "reaction of some Chavistas offered a view into their readiness to attack anyone criticizing their leader, without stopping to ponder whether the criticism was meant to be amusing or not." He observed as well that the "tirades against Mr. Moore, including requests broadcast on state-controlled media that he rectify what he said, were followed by a bit of soul-searching within Mr. Chavez's political movement as to whether a better-honed sense of humor was needed to absorb comments like those by Mr. Moore."
The anti-Moore charge is being led by Venezuela-American lawyer Eva Golinger -- a Chavez political operative whom one of Venezuela's anti-Chavez newspaper editors has branded as Venezuela's answer to Sen. Joe McCarthy because she equates criticism of Venezuela's government as being "anti-Venezuelan."
Golinger, in an article filled with grammatical errors, skewered Moore's "fairy tale" in a shrill analysis. Calling Moore a man with an "extreme ego," she suggested at various points that the filmmaker was a racist. For instance, she pointed out that Moore mistook Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro as Chavez's bodyguard, "but hey, all latinos (sic) look alike!"
Portraying Moore as an arrogant gringo who views Latinos in stereotypes, she wrote:
Golinger argued that it's utterly preposterous that Moore could have helped Chavez write a speech, because Chavez "is one of the most brilliant speakers in the world, with an immense capacity to bring together a variety of ideas while being coherent." She added that "nobody writes his speeches, not even him! He speaks from his heart, and not from a teleprompter!"
Golinger also fumed that Moore, after falsely taking credit for writing Chavez's speech, then "joked that Chavez should give him a 'year of free gasoline' for writing his speech. At least he didn't say bananas."
The apparent fallout between leftist soul mates Moore and Chavez is ironic. Chavez had been a big admirer of Moore in the past, with the president having wanted Moore's film, "Capitalism, A Love Story," to premiere in Venezuela, Golinger noted. And yet, she added: "Moore's response to this admiration, acclaim and support is to lie and ridicule President Chavez and the people of Venezuela."
According to the Times, Chavez has yet to offer public comment on Moore's remarks. As for Moore, the Times added that he "did not respond to requests for comment."