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The Revolution will not be Televised

October 1, 2006

Yesterday I was privileged to see the film ‘The Revolution will not be televised’ which is about the attempted coup that took place in Venezuela in 2002. The title, which is taken from the infamous Gill Scott Heron track, is ironic as this is one of the first coups to actually be caught on video in such detail. It was shot by a group of Irish cameramen who were going to follow President Hugo Chavez around for a year. They had already been filming Chavez for 7 months when the coup happened and were inside the Presidential Palace when the military took over and when the Presidential Guard loyal to Chavez mounted a counter coup after seeing almost 1000000 people surround the palace in protest. The footage is remarkable and the context of the situation is expertly positioned given the complexity of the situation.

Hugo Chavez is supposedly a very controversial figure and many world leaders in the west decry his government as a dictatorship and one of the most evil regimes in the world. The facts could not be further from the truth it seems. He has won 10 free and fair elections which is more than any serving head of state in any democracy. He is overwhelmingly supported by the poor who represent the majority of the population of Venezuela. He has ensured that much more of the vast oil wealth of the country is channeled to the poor, and not just to the rich elite. He has  promoted literacy and health care for the poorest of his citizens. He is controversial for trying to implement a model of democracy that is not based of market liberalism but rather on real redistribution of wealth and equality, and of course for antagonizing the US and other ‘democracies’. Last week at the UN Chavez described Bush as the devil and said that he could still smell the sulphur and the media subsequently leapt onto this ignoring all the other topics that he raised from eradication of poverty, to media influence in politics, American imperialism and most interestingly of all a recommendation to read Noam Chomsky’s book Hegemony or Survival. The book jumped on the Amazon best seller list from 160000th to 1st in a matter of days.

The film illustrates vividly the power of the media to influence events opinions and selectively disseminate and distort information. Under Hugo Chavez the media was very free but due to the television channels all belonging to the elite within the country, whose selfish interests were not going to be served by Chavez conspired during the coup to support and mobilize the opposition. The government was only able to air the truth through its own Channel 8 which was also seized briefly by the military. The film also makes clear that the opposition is being firmly supported and funded by the US so that it can secure a friendly government to ensure the oil supply. All in all it is an amazing experience to watch this film and I strongly recommend seeing this anyway that you can.

For more information you can also visit the Venezuela Information Centre.

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One comment

  1. I haven’t seen this film but will surely check it out under your recommendation.

    The days of the elite controling the media are drawing to a close. Blogging and vlogging are helping us make a level playing field. Projects like We are the Media and many more are moving things foward one post at a time.

    In 10 years everyone will be a film/documentary maker.



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