by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
John Fund documents for National Review Online readers left-wing filmmaker Oliver Stone’s recent appearance before a libertarian Students For Liberty panel on “The National Security State.” Among Stone’s most dubious ideas is support for Venezuela’s most recent strongman.
Stone, who is producing a biopic on the life of Hugo Chávez, said the American media don’t give Venezuela a fair shake and implied that student protests against the regime there weren’t legitimate. “Venezuela is a democratically elected government. These people who keep protesting are sore losers,” he told the skeptical audience. He said revolutionary changes were needed in the county because rich people still owned so much of it.
I spoke with several of the Latin American students afterward, and they were appalled. When it came to Venezuela, they noted that Human Rights Watch recently concluded that “the concentration of power and erosion of human rights protections had given the government free rein to intimidate, censor, and prosecute Venezuelans who criticized the president or thwarted his political agenda.”
“Just a few days ago, three students were shot dead in Caracas and one of our Students for Liberty colleagues, Jesus Armas, was jailed,” Gabriel Salas of Venezuela told me in disgust. “The populists always justify repression in the name of the poor, but they are impoverishing everyone,” Antonella Marty of Argentina added.
After the panel, Stone and another panelist privately admitted how impressed they were by the large number of libertarian student attendees, acknowledging the left would have had difficulty assembling such numbers. On his way out, Stone wandered by the libertarian Cato Institute’s table and picked up a copy of its pocket U.S. Constitution to take with him.
“Would that Stone acted to bring constitutional freedoms to the Latin Americans he claims to speak for,” said Humberto Rotondo of Peru, shaking his head. “I think he exposed the absurdity of his position to everyone here.”