Festive Left Friday Blogging: Aló Presidente turns 13!

A brief look back at the first episode of Chavecito’s call-in TV/radio show, Aló Presidente. On Venezuelanalysis, Mexican philosopher Fernando Buen Abad tells us why this show is so significant, and why it needs to go further:

Perhaps one of the programme’s greatest strengths is its capacity to organise and its utilisation as a televised space for education and training. It is a gift of political clarity and a pool of humanist thought, with talking, singing and contemplation; reflecting on love, studying public stories, demanding more work and attention from public functionaries and ministers. Alo Presidente continues to be a space for political action which allows us to dream up projects and obliges us to deliver results.

Alo Presidente has managed to achieve something unprecedented, and this makes it the object of serious study, an example in the global arena and a school for social communication which we must develop. We should multiply it in other forms of media and in other ways. Alo Presidente should be more international and be reproduced in embassies and in any other forms of media that we can reach. It is urgent for Venezuela to realise the fundamental role which the Bolivarian Revolution plays on the world stage, and urgent that the world knows what the Bolivarian Revolution has built.

In the array of things that the Alo Presidente has brought to the history of the media is its strength as a critical and self-critical force. Going against all the media operations which strive to accuse Venezuela of stifling “freedom of expression,” Alo Presidente is a guarantee of freedom of expression, as well as stimulating it, even with regards to some of the most unthinkable topics. Freedom of expression for socialist thought is one of its greatest achievements. This is a huge gift which has helped us reach the whole world. Alo Presidente has matured and become even more popular and more commanding in the war against bureaucratisation, as well as leading in the production of the most powerful content in Venezuelan and Latin American political life.

Así es.

Aló Presidente is democracy at its most direct; callers can get immediate action, with Chavecito often giving his ministers orders to look into pressing situations on the spot. It’s a far cry from the old, Puntofijista notion of “democracy”, in which decisions were made behind closed doors, and often only publicized when the disaster, like the IMF’s riot-sparking deal with Carlos Andrés Pérez, was a fait accompli. Now the Venezuelan people have a taste for direct action and direct democracy, and they’re not about to give it up for a roll back to the same old, same old…even behind a supposedly “younger face”. Little wonder, then, that Chavecito is a shoo-in for this October’s federal elections.

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