Actor and activist Sean Penn has posted an essay in defense of vilified Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez on the HuffingtonPost.com website.
The Oscar winner is opposed to the sanctions imposed on Venezuela by the U.S. and, in his online missive, takes aim at poor reporting which misrepresents the South American president, who he has befriended.
He writes, "Venezuela is a nation in abject poverty. Oil is its primary export and the exceptionally devastating impact upon its people should be of specific consideration. There has been a systemic barrage of misreporting and context-shifting within the U.S. media and espoused by many U.S. Representatives relative to Venezuela and its democratically elected President Hugo Chavez.
"The American people have grown accustomed to hearing the Venezuelan president referred to as a dictator, not only by media representatives but by members of the leadership in both parties. This is a defamation, not only to President Chavez, but also to the majority of Venezuelan people, poor people who have elected him president time and time again.
"This is not a dictator supported by the wealthy classes, but rather, a president elected by the impoverished and at the service of the Venezuelan constitution, a document not unlike our own. He is a flamboyant, passionate leader."
Penn ends his essay by urging Americans to "call for a moratorium" on the sanctions of Venezuela until "such time as a congressional hearing may be convened and strategic benefits evidenced in balance with the historic effects of similar sanctions in other developing and impoverished nations."