The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

…but by damn, it will be BLOGGED.

In honor of the 5th anniversary of the failed coup attempt against Hugo Chavez, the documentary that made the escualidos’ heads explode. And is still making them screech and squawk and spin.

This started out as a documentary on Hugo Chavez himself, but ended up accidentally covering the coup instead, since the filmmakers happened to be in the presidential palace, Miraflores, when it all went down. It’s gripping to say the least, and gives us a glimpse of just how cool Chavez is, both as a person and in a crisis. It’s obvious from many of the sequences that he enjoys huge popular support, mainly from the poor and lower-middle classes at home. It also shows the courage and loyalty of his government ministers, many of whom were in the palace when the coup happened and decided they’d rather stay there, even when the coup plotters threatened to bomb it, than abandon their president. Only when he was taken prisoner did they leave; since they faced death threats, beatings and arrests, many had to go into hiding. The people were then left to fend for themselves. Over the next two days, many more were killed by police when they attempted to organize demonstrations demanding that Chavez be returned.

Most amazing about this video is how the coup plotters had the bravado–and the extreme stupidity–to go on the air and tell their plans to the television audience. There is no way the oppositionists can deny that these people are guilty; they admit to having staged EVERYTHING. Moreover, they actually BRAG about it. One TV anchor boasts of having videotaped a general calling for Chavez’s resignation at his own house (!!!), and an admiral who was in the military wing of the plot reveals how Chavez had to be persuaded not to go to Costa Rica on a scheduled state visit, in order to have him present so they could take him prisoner when the pre-planned violence erupted. It’s a remarkable moment, and one that shows just how complicit the commercial media in Venezuela were in the coup. They were, in fact, the chief “weapon” in the plot, according to one of the generals. Some still believe the lies the media peddled on the two days that the coup plot was in effect, but most don’t–especially not after seeing this video, which is surely the most graphic piece of evidence against them!

My favorite scene, though, is the one where Chavez talks about his great-grandfather, Pedro Perez Delgado, whom he had grown up hearing all kinds of tall tales about. The big one was that he was a murderer–a mass murderer who chopped people’s heads off with machetes. Naturally this was a troubling thing for a young boy to hear. Later, during his own military career, Chavez did research and found out the truth–that his grandfather had been a folk hero, nicknamed Maisanta, and that he had indeed killed a man–a colonel who had made Pedro’s sister pregnant but refused to own up to it. Since their father was dead, that made Pedro the man of the family–and at the age of 16, he killed the colonel to save his sister’s honor. Then he fled and, along the way, joined a revolutionary guerrilla war which was then in progress, during the 1890s. He ended up bringing about the downfall of two corrupt leaders–a local governor and a dictatorial president–before landing up in jail himself. Clearly Chavez has revolution in his blood–and just as clearly, history repeats itself! You can see the pride in his eyes as he recites a poem that was written in Maisanta’s honor–he does it with real feeling, and the result is a very charming scene of the calm before the coup. It’s not hard to see why he’s a popular leader who, no matter how long he talks (and he can go on for hours!) commands people’s undivided attention.

It’s also not hard to see why the oligarchy wanted to remove him; this man is dangerous–to their corrupt way of life. Just like his grandfather before him, Chavez bids fair to shake loose their grip on the country and its economy. None of them have his popular appeal, and certainly none his innovative ideas, which are drawn straight from Simon Bolivar, Ezequiel Zamora, and Simon Rodriguez–three great heroes of Venezuelan history. While the oligarchy’s ideology comes from Washington, the Miami Mafia, and the discredited Chicago School of Economics, Chavez’s comes straight from the nation’s own roots. And the haste with which they tried to dismantle all its gains–and FAILED–can be seen in this video, which is a nailbiter right up to the end.

Jala que la soga se revienta…

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