Documentary My Friend Hugo pays homage in Canada to Chávez’s Life

A statement was signed by the attending in support of the Bolivarian People and Government, strongly rejecting US intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela


With the Vancouver premiere of Oliver Stone’s documentary My Friend Hugo, Comandante Chávez’s life was honoured this Thursday March 5th in the south-western city of Canada.

Over a hundred people attended the event, including many representatives of different social organizations who see Chávez as a key figure in the struggle against the capitalist-imperialist system and in the creation of a multipolar world.

The commemoration was jointly organized by the Consulate General of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Vancouver and the Hugo Chávez’s People Defense Front (FDPHC, by its Spanish acronym). This was the first time the documentary, directed by US filmmaker Oliver Stone, was screened to an English-speaking audience.

The turnout was massive, while some drove more than 60 kilometres from the United States to join the tribute. A second screening will be scheduled in the following days, thus providing an opportunity for the many that couldn’t make it into the venue due to capacity restrictions.

The occasion served to read out a statement signed by the attending social organizations and individuals, worth mentioning the Public Workers Union of Canada. The document, in support of the Bolivarian People and Government, strongly rejects US intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela.

After singing the Gloria al Bravo Pueblo, Venezuela’s anthem, the activity kicked off with welcoming words by Consul General Merli Vanegas: “We could spend hours talking about Chávez, but as a Venezuelan woman with a humble background, who has experienced the changes brought to my country by the Bolivarian Revolution, I can summarize by saying that Chávez honoured his pledge to his people,” the official stressed.

The documentary, which focuses on the Latin American leader’s human side, touched the hearts of the audience. Laughter and applause could be heard at each witty comment or remarkable speech by President Chávez.

One of his most famous quotes, part of a speech he delivered at the UN headquarters in September 2006, “In this place it still smells of sulphur,” in reference to the then US president, George W. Bush, marked the climax of the documentary. Many couldn’t hold their tears as the film reminded how Chávez got ill and showed the tragic news of his death.

After the film, an open microphone round of interventions gave the attendants the opportunity to share personal anecdotes with Chávez, analysis of the current political situation in Latin America and thank-you notes to the Comandante for his solidarity with the peoples of the world.

Marta Harnecker, a Chilean sociologist who was awarded the 9th edition of the Liberator’s Prize for Critical Thought for his book Un mundo a construir –Nuevos caminos (A World to Build –New Paths toward Twenty-First Century Socialism) and who worked directly with Chávez, was present and took the floor: “Chávez’s most important legacy was the concept of the Twenty-First Century Socialism, as he called it, one that is built by the people. This is what he always encouraged and it is why the Venezuelan people have matured so much,” the scholar said.

Karen Weill, a US citizen and Human Rights activist, and her husband drove about 64 km into Vancouver, across the border with the United States, to attend the event. “It’s wonderful to see Chávez not just as a legend, but as a real man who felt and loved deeply. That’s where his power came from; from his love for his people and his country,” said a tearful Weill, who has been in Venezuela to witness the Revolution by herself.

Hanna Kawas, an activist from Palestina, acknowledged Chávez’s work in ushering Latin America into endorsing the Palestinian cause: “Latin America’s support of Palestine is now even stronger than that by the Arab countries, and we owe this to Chávez,” he added.

Meanwhile, Macarena Cataldo, a researcher at Vancouver’s University of British Columbia and FDPHC member, referred to the hope the Bolivarian Revolution fills her with after that same dream was snatched from her country by a coup d’etát against President Salvador Allende, in September 11th 1973, and gave way to a neoliberal model imposed by the 17-year long Pinochet dictatorship in the South American nation.

To her, the Bolivarian Revolution represents an auspicious 13 for Chile’s 11, referring to Venezuela’s famous expression “every 11 has its 13”. The term evokes April 13th, 2002, when the Venezuelan people and Armed Forces regained power after the right-wing coup d’état that toppled Chávez for some 47 hours.

The event was also part of the Robert Serra’s Discussion Group, a monthly meeting for political debate and exchange of ideas that the FDPHC organizes the first Thursday of every month in Vancouver.

Collective access to water, seen as a human right, and how capitalism deprives millions of human beings from such right is the topic slated for the upcoming Discussion Group, to be held on Thursday April 2nd. The event will feature presentations from researchers at the prestigious University of British Columbia.


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