Frontline (1983– )
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The Hugo Chavez Show 

Frontline examines Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez chronicling his rise to power and offering insights into his personality, policies and his shrewd use of the media.


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Episode credited cast:
Jon Lee Anderson Jon Lee Anderson ... Himself - The New Yorker
Alberto Barrera Alberto Barrera ... Himself - Author, Hugo Chávez
Humberto Berti Humberto Berti ... Himself - Minister of Energy, 1989-1993
Robert Burke Robert Burke ... (voice)
Colette Caprilies Colette Caprilies ... Herself - Simon Bolivar University
Benito Cardoso Benito Cardoso ... Himself - Master Builder
Rory Carroll Rory Carroll ... Himself - Journalist
Oscar Ceballos Oscar Ceballos ... Himself - Activist
Hugo Chávez ... Himself (archive footage)
Porfirio Davilla Porfirio Davilla ... Himself - Veterinarian
Eleazer Diaz Rangel Eleazer Diaz Rangel ... Himself - Editor, Ultimas Noticias
Jorge Drosten Jorge Drosten ... (voice)
Steve Ellner Steve Ellner ... Himself - Political Historian
Ted Gesing Ted Gesing ... (voice)
Phil Gunson Phil Gunson ... Himself - The Economist


Frontline examines Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez chronicling his rise to power and offering insights into his personality, policies and his shrewd use of the media.

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Release Date:

25 November 2008 (USA) See more »

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Features Aló Presidente (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

Surprisingly critical...this show had nothing substantially good to say about Chavez
1 October 2011 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

In this episode of the PBS series, they investigate the rise of Hugo Chavez. In addition to the usual incredibly dry narration, there are many interviews--mostly of people who love Chavez or who did but have become disenchanted by him. Those on the right who ALWAYS disliked or distrusted Chavez are not interviewed. This is not a complaint--more just an observation.

The film begins in the 1980s. Venezuela is a bipolar society--with a few rich folks and lots of impoverished folks. The country has been run by a long line of politicians--those who kept this status quo. Then, the film discusses Chavez's fast rise from the military to a failed coup to President. Then, the challenges to his power, shortcomings in the implementation of his programs, his odd frequent TV broadcasts (his 'Sunday Show'--hence the name of this episode of "Frontline"), his treatment of his cabinet officials, his unusual relationship with Castro, his refusal to follow the rules of a truly representative government and continuing poverty and inequity.

In watching this film, it's obvious that SOMETHING had to be done in Venezuela about the poverty and land reform before Chavez's administration. The status quo was ambivalent. However, and this is what surprised me about the show, "Frontline" was extremely critical and negative concerning Chavez. Considering how many in the US (and I would include myself in this group) see PBS and shows like "Frontline" was having a bias towards the left, it's surprising how the show didn't seem to have much of anything good to say about the man--and seemed to conclude that his presidency is, in fact, a dictatorship--and a failed one at that. And, interestingly, most of the harshest criticism came from his country's left--making the criticism seem much more genuine and sincere. As a result, I was left very impressed by the show and the way it constructed its thesis--building to this ultimate conclusion. Very compelling.

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