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Venezuela Bolivariana: People and the Struggle of the Fourth World War 2004

Recommended with reservations

Distributed by Third World Newsreel, 545 Eighth Avenue, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10018; 212-947-9277
Produced by Cooperativa Calle y Media
Directed by Marcelo Andrade Arreaza
DVD, color, 76 min.

Sr. High - Adult
Latin American Studies, Political Science, History, Human Rights, International Relations

Date Entered: 05/10/2010

Reviewed by Justin Cronise, University at Buffalo, State University of New York

Venezuela Bolivariana: People and the Struggle of the Fourth World War is an in-your-face, feature-length, documentary concerning the popular Bolivarian revolutionary movement in Venezuela since the Caracas riots in 1989. The film delves into the struggle of the Venezuelan people to achieve their dreams of a real participatory democracy, which is inspired by the visionary, revolutionary, and hero, Simon Bolivar. The leader of this movement is current Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who is enormously popular in his home country, especially among the poor majority, for bringing the power back to the people.

Venezuela Bolivariana is clearly and unapologetically opposed to the ideals of neo-liberalism, capitalism, and globalization – all of which are closely linked, and most-associated with the United States. The film argues compellingly for the freedom of the people of Venezuela to decide what is best for Venezuela, not the United States government, or even the heads of the Venezuelan government. The “fourth world war” (the “Cold War” is the third world war) refers to the global domination of the capitalist system that makes the richest individuals richer at the expense of the poorest majority, which is especially felt in developing nations. It is called “a total war: economic, military, cultural, [and] environmental.” The United States government is especially vilified for its constant military intimidation and economic influence, including its role in the 2002 coup that attempted to remove Chavez from power and in the World Trade Organization.

The film features extensive historical footage following the roots of the movement from the riots in 1989 to the present, as well as numerous interviews with activists, dissidents, and protesters, including Duglas Bravo, Roland Denis, Cecila Areito, Luis Britto Garcia, and Noam Chomsky. The film is generally in Spanish, with English subtitles.

Venezuela Bolivariana is a passionate, gritty, and thought-provoking film. It offers a valuable counterpoint to the perspective most often given in mainstream American media and politics that promotes capitalism, globalization, and military intervention, and portrays Chavez in a negative light. Not everyone will agree with the message, but it is certainly an engaging film. The violence and language may make it less appropriate for younger audiences. The in-your-face nature of the film is literal for the interviews, which are recorded in extreme close-up and with the camera often moving dramatically.

Despite shortcomings in style, Venezuela Bolivariana is recommended for general public libraries for providing an engaging opposing viewpoint. For this reason, it is also recommended for collections supporting studies in international relations, or any studies of revolution and protest. For the insight into Venezuelan and Latin American culture and politics, it is particularly recommended for collections supporting Latin American studies.

Note: This film is freely accessible from various Internet sources, including Google videos.