Back with Chavez: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. I don’t know how I missed this film back in 2003. It must be because it came in a DVD insert in the back of the book which I never got round to reading. Nor did I watch it when shown on the BBC that year. As an MP at the time I may be have been preoccupied with other things in 2003.
So despite the current mess Venezuela is in today, and despite the separate debatable issue of Chavez’s alleged anti-semitism, the film is as topical today as it was 15 years ago – and very watchable, gripping even, as it follows the short lived coup attempt against Chavez in 2002. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it isn’t used as a training video by the CIA.
Complaints were made about the film by Venezuelan oppositionists, and following the BBC screening both the BBC and OFCOM investigated these but found no case to answer. At the time, the BBC said it wouldn’t show it again whilst it was under investigation. I suggest that they now do show it again, as something of a corrective to their own rather partial reporting, which I’ve mentioned in previous blogs.
Back to the book – which analyses the film’s production and reception – and I found this entertaining anecdote:
It is clear that substantial resources and direct efforts are being made to counter and contain what the U.S. State Department sees as a ‘strategic threat’ to the region In 2005 $6 million was allotted for its interventions. At this point evidence for U.S. involvement in the coup remains fascinating, but circumstantial, such as the extraordinary incident days before the coup on 8 April where a U.S. Marine officer David Cazares mistook Chavez loyalist General Roberto Gonzales Cardenas for coup-plotter General Nestor Gonzales Gonzales at a formal farewell reception for the departing Chinese military attache in Caracas. Not realising there were two General Gonzaleses in the Venezuelan military High Command, he approached the wrong one (the name tag on a general’s uniform only says the first last name). Apparently he said ‘Why haven’t you contacted the ships that we have on the coast and the submarine we have submerged in La Guaira? What has happened? Why has no-one contacted me? What are you waiting for?’ Puzzled by the questions, the wrong Gonzales merely took his business card and replied ‘I’ll find out.’ (Chavez, etc. p.100)
Whilst amusing, I’m not sure this story stacks up. Is it really possible the American could have been so stupid as to mix two high ranking officers up when one of them was in on the game? At a reception of all places? Perhaps in support of it, the film does reveal that an American registered plane had landed on the island where Chavez was briefly held during the coup.
Yes, the BBC should definitely show the film again. At prime time. I think it would be quite a coup.