!alo, Presidente!

Aló Presidente
Aló Presidente.png
GenreTalk show
Presented byHugo Chávez
StarringHugo Chávez
Country of originVenezuela
Original language(s)Spanish
Production
Production location(s)Caracas
Release
Original networkVenezolana de Televisión
Original releaseMay 23, 1999 –
January 29, 2012
External links
Website

Aló Presidente (English: Hello, Mr. President) was an unscripted propaganda talk show that was hosted by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. It was broadcast on Venezuelan state television, by Venezolana de Televisión, and radio stations every Sunday from 11:00 am.

The show has been criticized for being similar in style to, and having the appeal of, absurdist humor while actually being run by the leader of a populous country, as well as for being samey to itself and becoming tedious to watch after only a few hours.[1]

In Venezuela, the show was a powerful tool in creating and maintaining the ideals of Chavismo within the population.

History[]

Beginning in 1999, Chávez spent an average of 40 hours a week on television promoting his Bolivarian Revolution policies, including Aló Presidente.[2]

The show featured Chávez addressing topics of the day and touring locations where government social welfare programs were active. The first broadcast was made on May 23, 1999 — about three months after Chávez took office — on radio.[3] The show did not air between June 5, 2011 and January 8, 2012 while Chávez was receiving cancer treatment in Cuba.[4] A total of 378 shows aired.[5]

One of the most memorable and "infamous" episodes is said to be a 2006 broadcast where the show was instead recorded in a field, with cows wandering around Chávez' desk;[1] in 2007, he took his desk to the beach and recorded a 7-hour episode that discussed his views on European imperialism by accident.[6] Another famous moment was during the March 2, 2008 airing when Chávez ordered a top general to send ten battalions of troops to the border with Colombia in response to a bombing by Colombian forces inside Ecuador which killed Raúl Reyes, a top member of FARC.[7][8] The battalions were ultimately not deployed,[9] but the decision largely caused the 2008 Andean diplomatic crisis.[1]

Format[]

The format of the show changed over time. At first, it was mainly a call-in show in which Venezuelans expressed grievances and talked to Chávez. Over time, fewer and fewer "regular people" called in and instead Chávez talked about his favorite topics and personal life. More artistic performances were added as the years went on.[10] Throughout its run, the show remained unscripted.[1][11] Chávez tried to broadcast from a different location each week.[12]

Broadcast as a cadena nacional, citizens were required to tune in to the show each week.[1] Many Venezuelans tuned in because Chávez was known for unveiling new financial assistance packages every weekend.[13] The program did not have a fixed ending time, but usually ended by 5:00 pm, or as the program dynamics permitted. The show promoted the Bolivarian Revolution and blamed Venezuelan economic problems on its northern neighbor, the United States.[14] George W. Bush was referred to in the show as "Míster Danger", the villain character in famous Venezuelan novel Doña Bárbara.[1]

Government ministers were required to attend the program. They could be questioned by the president about anything, and sometimes policy — even military policy — was made on the show. [8] The battalions were ultimately not deployed,[9] but the decision contributed to the 2008 Andean diplomatic crisis. Another topic the show was frequently used to discuss, and often denounce, was U.S. foreign policy.[9] Sometimes, the show went out to the streets and stopped citizens at random to ask them if they watched the show; without fail, they all said they loved it, which has been viewed as fake.[1]

Style[]

Chávez was always dressed in politically-affiliated clothing on the show

Rachel Nolan of The New York Times described the show as looking "for all the world like a 'Daily Show' parody" because of its "cheap" and "quirky" opening titles: a ribbon in the colors of the Venezuelan flag unfurls with a drum roll before the title appears on screen, followed by a trumpet call with dramatic block letters showing the words "humanity," "struggle," and "socialism."[1] Nolan also notes the political imagery of Chávez' appearance in the title sequence; he was always dressed entirely in red or in a military uniform, often wearing a Che Guevara beret, and was swarmed with fans outside the presidential palace before the show started and he applauded himself live at his desk.[1]

Chávez also had a catchphrase on the show, akin to Donald Trump's "You're Fired!". A common activity Chávez was filmed doing for the show was expropriating buildings owned by rich people, which he dramatized by pointing at the building and shouting "Exprópiese!".[1]

Influence[]

Aló Presidente spawned similar programs by leaders in other Latin American countries, including Bolivia, Ecuador[9], Mexico[15] and El Salvador, led by Presidents Evo Morales, Rafael Correa, Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Mauricio Funes respectively. Some of these leaders had previously been pseudo-interviewed on Aló Presidente.[1] A later similar program, created by Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez in September 2019 was delivered via WhatsApp.[16] Despite the international copies, Nolan opined that, "with the exception of the logorrheic Fidel Castro, it's hard to imagine another political figure with the combination of manic exhibitionism and entertainer's stamina required to star in this sort of show".[1]

It was suggested by historian Enrique Krauze that the show was somewhat enjoyed by Venezuelans because it gave them "at least the appearance of contact with power, through [Chávez'] verbal and visual presence, which may be welcomed by people who have spent most of their lives being ignored."[1]

See also[]

References[]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Nolan, Rachel (2012-05-04). "Hugo Chávez's Totally Bizarre Talk Show". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-09-30.
  2. ^ Schoen, Douglas (2009). The Threat Closer to Home. New York: Free Press. ISBN 978-1-4165-9477-2.
  3. ^ Wilson, Peter (September 15, 2006). "Live From Caracas! It's the Hugo Chavez Show, Poems to Taunts". Bloomberg. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
  4. ^ "Chavez's "Alo Presidente" returns to Venezuelan TV". Reuters. 2012-01-08. Retrieved 2019-09-30.
  5. ^ "Aló Presidente - Transmisiones Anteriores" (in Spanish). Ministry of Popular Power for Communication and Information. Archived from the original on August 1, 2009. Retrieved July 14, 2009.
  6. ^ Carroll, Rory (2007-08-28). "Aló Presidente - episode 291: When Chávez reclaimed Las Malvinas". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-09-30.
  7. ^ Anderson, Jon Lee (June 23, 2008). "Fidel's Heir: The influence of Hugo Chávez". The New Yorker. Retrieved March 6, 2013.
  8. ^ a b Bikel, Ofra (November 25, 2008). "The Hugo Chavez Show". Frontline. PBS. Archived from the original on 1 December 2008. Retrieved November 26, 2008.
  9. ^ a b c d Grant, Will (May 24, 2009). "Chavez TV show marks anniversary". BBC News. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
  10. ^ Frajman, Eduardo, "Broadcasting Populist Leadership: Hugo Chavez and Alo Presidente", Journal of Latin American Studies, Vol. 43, Issue 3, August 2014, pp. 501-526.
  11. ^ Carroll, Rory (April 28, 2010). "Hugo Chávez embraces Twitter to fight online 'conspiracy'". The Guardian. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
  12. ^ Carroll, Rory (2007-09-25). "Government by TV: Chávez sets 8-hour record". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-09-30.
  13. ^ McCaughan, Michael. (2010). Battle of Venezuela. New York: Seven Stories Press. ISBN 9781609801168. OCLC 697122361.
  14. ^ Lakshmanan, Indira (27 July 2005). "Channeling his energies Venezuelans riveted by president's TV show". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  15. ^ "In his first annual government report, AMLO says he is delivering change as promised". The Yucatan Times. 2019-09-02. Retrieved 2019-09-30.
  16. ^ "Al estilo de "Aló Presidente", Abdo crea su canal digital "Hola Marito"". www.hoy.com.py (in Spanish). Retrieved 2019-09-30.

External links[]