Sean Penn tours Venezuela

Sean Penn had the Hollywood Oscar but Hugo Chávez had the greater star power when they teamed up for a roadshow through Venezuela.

Sean Penn had the Hollywood Oscar but Hugo Chávez had the greater star power when they teamed up for a roadshow through Venezuela. The actor and the president toured the border region with Colombia last Friday in a convoy of bodyguards, journalists and wellwishers who punctuated their stops with cheers.

Mr Chávez, ebullient, cheerful and on occasion bursting into song, praised his American guest as "a man who is critical of his government and of imperialism" and included him among the left-wing foreigners who have supported his socialist revolution.

In contrast Mr Penn appeared subdued, saying little beyond the fact he was visiting the South American country as a journalist for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting and that he would withhold his views for his article.

The president reassured other members of the tour: "He's very quiet, but he has a fire burning inside."


Rory Carroll

The GuardianTramp

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