When Hugo Chavez stormed to power in Venezuela in 1998 he promised to transform the lives of the poor. He was at the helm of the country with the largest proven oil reserves in the world and set about spending Venezuela’s vast oil wealth. Around the world he was hailed as a new hope for socialism by left wing politicians, including Ken Livingstone and then back bench Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn. But now 20 years on, 90 per cent of families in Venezuela say they do not have enough to eat and the United Nations predicts that over five million people will have fled the country by the end of 2019.
This film tells the extraordinary story of Chavez’s 14-year presidency. A precursor to many of today’s populist leaders, Chavez bypassed traditional media and spoke directly to the people through his weekly live TV show. Told by many of those who knew him, it is the story of incredible short-term achievements in health and education, but also of the tragic legacy of his idealism, populism and ruthless pursuit of absolute power. With populist movements increasingly taking power in countries around the world, it is a story that is now more relevant than ever.