The Tri-Continental Film Festival is showing at the Ster Kinekor Nouveau in the Waterfront. I went last night to watch the first of 3 documentaries that have caught my eye in the selection on offer. There are so many that are worth seeing, but it’s not possible to see them all.
The one I watched last night is called Revolucion and it is about Hugo Chavez and what he has done in Venezuela. Regular readers will know that this is one of my favourite topics, I have posted comments on this topic previously here and here.
The movie basically looks at what caused the revolution in Venezuela and how it’s the same causes as all the other revolutions in history: monopolisation of wealth and resources by the wealthy at expense of the poor. They break down the process of revolution into several steps, using what has happened in Venezuela as the illustration for each of the steps.
They do try and show a balanced view. They interview several anti-Chavez activists and allow those who are pro-Chavez to also speak about the problems that still exist. However, you certainly leave thinking the revolution has been a good thing for Venezuela.
There are several things that I found particularly interesting. One was the fact that people didn’t necessarily have to be lifted out of poverty in order to be happy with the government. The fact that they were confident that the government had their interests at heart and that there was hope that perhaps the next generation would see an improvement in their circumstances was enough for them. They could see upliftment programs happening around them, and while they might not benefit directly themselves, they could see others benefitting and were confident that the government was doing what it could.
The other interesting thing is how much emphasis Hugo Chavez puts on communicating with and educating the people. I’m not referring to the education policies which have been put in place but rather his desire to keep the populace informed of matters affecting the country and the decisions he has to make. Every Sunday morning he has a live television broadcast which can last up to 5 hours. In this time he explains, in detail, new policies that he is putting in place, issues that have arisen involving the country, etc. He will look at the opposition newspapers and chat about what they are saying, he will take calls from the public and answer their questions, etc. The result is that every Venezuelan citizen knows why he is doing what he is doing. They can explain economic concepts and the affect of policies, etc. This is an amazing level of transparency, different from most governments who believe the citizens are too stupid to understand what is going on.
The last point I want to share with you before this review becomes to long, is the lessons we can learn and apply in South Africa. Our situation is very similar here. Like Venezuela, the vast majority of people are living in poverty while the minority (and I’m not talking black vs white) monopolise the wealth and resources. The crime level you see rising is a direct result of this and it could very well be the first signs of a revolution.