There were two stories in today’s Boston Globe that were chilling in their juxtaposition. First, in “Ex-Red Guard recalls China’s Cultural Revolution” a foot soldier in Mao’s guard recalls the movement that nearly destroyed China:
``We did what you see on TV or in films," Li said. ``We put up big-character posters and went around to the houses of the rich and landowners to get their stuff. We took their money, gold, silver, and things and gave it to the government. And of course, we also destroyed the stuff that belonged to the Four Olds category."Two pages later comes the Venezuelan Cultural Revolution:
That included such cultural symbols and treasures as museums, paintings,sculptures, books, musical instruments, and anything associated with``superstitious" religious beliefs, including churches and temples.
As Mao goaded on the Red Guards over the next few months, they began attacking anyone deemed counter-revolutionary.
Millions of artists, writers, government officials, thinkers, and teachers were beaten, humiliated, and sometimes spontaneously lynched in public meetings known as ``struggle" sessions.
When a Venezuelan crime drama broke box-office records here last year, drawing critical acclaim and a cult following in the ghettos where it was filmed, the young director hoped the movie would spark a debate on how to address poverty, violence, and class divisions.For the revolution is always right, the revolution is always good, and four legs may be good, but two legs is better.
Instead, the nation's most successful home-grown film ever, which depicted the kidnapping of a rich, cocaine-snorting couple by barrio gangsters, ignited a furious backlash from the government.
Vice President José Vicente Rangel has denounced the movie, loosely based on the real-life kidnapping of the director, as ``a falsification of the truth with no artistic value."
The director is being sued for ``vilifying" President Hugo Chávez, though the president never appears in the film, nor is he mentioned.
In January, the hosts of a government television program accused the Jewish filmmaker of being part of a ``Zionist conspiracy against Chávez." The next morning, the president angrily called for laws to block the production of films that "denigrate our revolution."
Hours later, the 28-year-old director, Jonathan Jakubowicz, fled the country, fearing for his life.
The controversy over ``Secuestro Express" (``Express Kidnapping") is one chapter in a bitter tug of war over culture and image in Chávez's Venezuela.
Critics say the government is obsessed with promoting a perfect picture of life under Chávez, sponsoring art that feeds his personality cult and glorifies his populist revolution. Artists who criticize Chávez or portray anything negative about contemporary Venezuela say they are condemned or sidelined.