Chavez, a former soldier who is inspired by South American independence hero Simon Bolivar, applauded local filmmakers and urged them to work to counter the influence of US blockbusters. Film Villa's first production is a series about Francisco de Miranda, a leading figure in Venezuela's fight against colonial Spain and one of Chavez's heroes. Last year, the Venezuelan president launched Telesur, a regional television news station designed the compete with networks such as CNN.
While supporters praise the Venezuelan leader for financing health and education programs for the poor, his opponents denounce him as a fledgling dictator who has eroded democracy by controlling independent institutions such as the courts. Washington has branded Chavez a threat to regional stability and is concerned about his close ties with Cuba's Fidel Castro. Chavez rejects those charges as propaganda and accuses US officials of plotting to topple him.Last Mod: 00 0000, 00:00