"Today the people of the United States lost a friend it never knew it had. And poor people around the world lost a champion," says Penn in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "I lost a friend I was blessed to have. My thoughts are with the family of President Chavez and the people of Venezuela."
He added, "He’s one of the most important forces we’ve had on this planet, and I’ll wish him nothing but that great strength he has shown over and over again. I do it in love, and I do it in gratitude."
Oliver Stone also had loving words for the man:
''I mourn a great hero to the majority of his people and those who struggle throughout the world for a place," says Stone in a statement to THR. "Hated by the entrenched classes, Hugo Chavez will live forever in history."
"My friend, rest finally in a peace long earned," he adds.
Hugo Chavez wasn't actually a Dictator by definition, but he wasn't exactly a nice guy.
“By his second full term in office,” said Human Rights Watch, “the concentration of power and erosion of human rights protections had given the government free rein to intimidate, censor, and prosecute Venezuelans who criticized the president or thwarted his political agenda.”
In a series of detailed research reports published over the last decade, the rights organization has documented the crushing of judicial independence, the large-scale censorship and intimidation of the media, the quashing of opposition parties and banishment and silencing of opponents, and the imprisonment of human-rights activists. During an era when such excesses and abuses of power were disappearing in most other major South American countries, Venezuela stood nearly alone in its magnitude of demagoguery.
The authoritarianism extended into the economy. While he didn’t, contrary to popular myth, nationalize the oil industry (it had been government-owned since 1976, and he merely devastated its productivity and output by packing it with cronies and failing to maintain its infrastructure), he did manage to trash most of the non-oil economy. In a country that should be one of the great agricultural exporters of the Americas, he turned farming into a non-viable business by subsidizing consumption and controlling prices, and converted large swathes of commercial-agriculture land back into subsistence-level peasant farms. As a result, his country became heavily reliant on food imports and suffered from serious food shortages.
On top of that, somehow one of the world’s largest oil exporters, during a decade-long petroleum-price boom, managed to accumulate a fiscal deficit of 20 per cent. That, combined with an annual inflation rate of 30 per cent, is the result of an authoritarian, rather than liberal, approach to the economy.