A host of Hollywood A-listers have rushed to support Hugo Chavez over the years — the most glaring example of which was Sean Penn.
The Oscar-winning actor Penn continuously praised Chavez, saying he generously helped his country’s poor and destitute and was a fascinating and bold leader.
Chavez, who ruled Venezuela with an iron fist for 14 years, died on Tuesday after battling cancer for two years. He had, over the years, been feted by Hollywood's elite even as he remained a thorn in the side of America's policies in the region.
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During the Penn visit to Chavez, the loudmouth star ripped the policies of President George W. Bush towards Chavez and once whipped himself into such a frenzy that he reportedly called for the arrest of those who referred to Chavez as a dictator.
“[Chavez is] one of the most important forces we've had on this planet," Penn gushed late last year as the Venezuelan president’s health deteriorated.
“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.
“I just want to say, from my very American point of view, of my friend President Chavez: It is only possible to be so inspiring as he is, as a two-way street.’’
Penn also accused the American media of going after Chavez and telling “lies’’ about him.
The actor’s love of Chavez became so embarrassing to some in Hollywood that Matt Stone and Trey Parker savagely lampooned him in their movie "Team America: World Police" a parody that infuriated the star.
Penn had plenty of company when it came to his Chavez worship.
Other unabashed admirers included Kevin Spacey, Danny Glover, Oliver Stone, Harry Belafonte, Naomi Campbell, and Princeton University Professor Cornel West.
And some are nearly as critical as Penn.
Belafonte labeled George W. Bush the "greatest tyrant in the world,’’ while telling Chavez how “millions’’ of Americans supported him.
Boxing promoter Don King praised Chavez and his "revolution,’’ announcing, "To see what is happening here makes me feel good all over.’’
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