Sean Penn called out for praising Hugo Chavez

Actress Maria Conchita Alonso, who starred with Sean Penn in the 1998 movie “Colors,” has written an impassioned open letter to Penn setting him straight about recent remarks he made praising Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. In the letter, titled “An Open Letter to Sean Penn,” Conchita Alonso expresses her disappointment at Penn’s statements made on the March 5th, 2010 episode of HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher.” During that show, Penn praised the Venezuelan president, saying Chavez had been elected in “14 of the most transparent elections in the globe, and been elected democratically.”

Conchita Alonso, who was raised in Venezuela, offered a different assessment of Venezuela under Hugo Chavez:

“Dear Sean, WHY?” she begins. “Even though I have great respect for your artistic talent, I was appalled by a recent television interview where you vigorously showed support for the regime of Hugo Chavez. Therefore, I’ve decided to set the record straight for you regarding the Chavez regime, supporting my case based not only on my political ideologies, but on proven facts you choose to ignore. Otherwise, I believe your position would be different.”

In a fervent yet respectful tone, Conchita Alonso goes on to lay out her case against Chavez, citing lack of free speech, disputed elections, international posturing, and escalating violence and poverty, among others, as issues facing Venezuela under and because of Chavez. “My intention isn’t to convince you,” Conchita Alonso writes, “but to let you know what is truly happening in this beautiful country of noble people, Venezuela. I would encourage you to investigate in depth the ‘inside story’ and realize for yourself the dark side behind the person you choose to idolize.”

During that same appearance on “Real Time,” Penn also opined that prison might be a good solution for members of the media who refer to Chavez as a dictator:

“Every day, this elected leader is called a dictator here, and we just accept it, and accept it” said Penn, winner of two Best Actor Academy Awards. “And this is mainstream media, who should — truly, there should be a bar by which one goes to prison for these kinds of lies.”

While there’s no denying Hugo Chavez isn’t a dictator along the lines of someone like Saddam Hussein, Venezuela certainly seems to be moving towards authoritarianism, so a full-fledge dictatorship might not be far off. While Sean Penn’s entitled to his opinion – however misguided and clouded it may be – suggesting that members of the media be imprisoned for daring to express an opinion contrary to the one held by Penn crosses a big line.


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11 thoughts on “Sean Penn called out for praising Hugo Chavez

  1. Chavez is not like Saddam Hussein at all. Not one bit. You might want to read up on both of them. He is a strong leader but he is no killer. His Bolivarian revolution is not a dictatorship. Saddam Hussein was no socialist seeking to move wealth and education to the masses.
    Chavez seeks to unite South America against the US while Hussein sought to conquer his neghbors.
    They had nothing in common except their fear of US policy towards their oil.

    As for Sean Penn, he does not know that wolves can wear other types of clothing.

    1. I get the difference between Saddam and Hugo Chavez, but my point is that Hugo Chavez is far from being a benevolent leader; he’s done some things that certainly give most reasonable folks cause for concern that Venezuela is headed away from being a true democracy.

      1. What things? He has won every election by a landslide and he has survived two coup attempts by the CIA in the past seven years. The CIA failed so miserably they replaced the entire South American team. They chose the same guy who took out the Soviet Union to run the newest team but then backtracked when Chavez started increasing taxes on the US oil companies and making them pay them.
        Now Chavez spent a ton of money on new Russian aircraft to fend off an American attack and to protect Cuba from the US when Castro dies.
        The game is not over. Obama is looking to increase US presence/troops in Colombia and Chavez fears that drug raids will actually be excuses to test his control over his border.
        There is much afoot in Venezuela and the recent geo surveys about oil reserves in the Orinoco basin indicate that Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves. The US needs access to those oil pools but Chavez is not forgiving of the two coup attempts and he is working with China now.
        Bush mucked up the whole thing by thinking that Chavez was a socialist. The two presidents before Chavez were socialists. They nationalized the oil industry.
        Chavez is not a great leader on the world stage, however, he did re-ignite OPEC and lowered production to raise oil prices. He is listened to in many countries but his influence overall is small. He needs the Panama Canal to ship to China,too. He can be worked if we would stop trying to overthrow him. We could be his future market but he has to stop nationalizing the banking system, allow criticism of policies, and stop ginning up South America against the US. I have hope that this can be worked out but guys like Sean Penn need to take off their sunglasses and understand that Chavez does not allow his enemies any room for civil liberties.

    2. Saddam Hussein WAS a Socialist seeking to transfer wealth to the masses. He DID transfer wealth to the masses. He DID let Iraqi women preside as doctors and professors. And he DID commit genocide.

      1. This is the first time I have seen Saddam Hussein labelled a socialist. Mad dictator, sure. Socialist? Not so much. Of course I think of Daniel Hoan when I think of socialists. He was pretty damn cool.

        1. Baathism is not theocratic like many assume, but secular. The same secular ideology reviled by the Muslim Brotherhood promotes Arab Socialism. Saddam’s regime was a Socialist regime. Mugabe and Chavez also. You haven’t heard him labeled as such because no one pays much attention to the classification of economic systems in the Arab World. Bush just called him ‘fascist.’

  2. I guess when you back a dictator you have no qualms about putting critical journalists in prison (see Castro, China, et al).

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