Sean Penn joins Chavez on campaign in Venezuela

CARACAS Sun Aug 5, 2012 10:14pm EDT

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez (R) talks to U.S. actor Sean Penn during an election rally in Valencia, some 150 km (93 miles) west from Caracas August 5, 2012. REUTERS/Miraflores Palace/Handout

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez (R) talks to U.S. actor Sean Penn during an election rally in Valencia, some 150 km (93 miles) west from Caracas August 5, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Miraflores Palace/Handout

CARACAS (Reuters) - U.S. actor Sean Penn joined President Hugo Chavez at an election rally in Venezuela on Sunday, bringing a dash of Hollywood to the campaign as he rode with him atop a truck past cheering supporters.

Penn is a friend of Chavez, who hopes to win a new six-year term on October 7. The campaign has turned into the toughest fight of the president's political career.

"Thank you very much for visiting us again, dear friend," Chavez said after introducing Penn to the big crowd in the central city of Valencia. "We're all Americans, from the north, the center, the south. Long live the American continent!"

Penn, in a white shirt and sunglasses and accompanied by Argentine producer Fernando Sulichin, waved from the stage, fist-bumped and hugged Chavez, but did not address the rally.

The Oscar-winning actor, screenwriter and director is well-known for his political and social activism.

He was a vocal critic of the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush, and was involved in humanitarian efforts following Haiti's earthquake and Hurricane Katrina.

Last year, Penn worked for the release of two U.S. hikers who were arrested in Iran, flying to Venezuela to ask Chavez to intervene on their behalf with Iran's leader.

Most polls in South America's top oil exporter give Chavez a double-digit lead ahead of the vote. He says he is completely cured after three cancer operations in the last year, although few details have been released about the 58-year-old's condition.

Chavez's rival, 40-year-old former state governor Henrique Capriles, has also been drawing big crowds. The opposition says its polls show Capriles will win in October.

(Reporting by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Stacey Joyce)

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Comments (8)
onemind wrote:
I can’t believe Penn knows what he is doing. Chavez has nearly destroyed that country. I have a good friend who’s family still lives there. Murder and kidnapping is so bad she can no longer visit, the crime mafia thinks because she has an American husband she must be rich. Her family has nearly starved and a young niece died last fall from a “fever” which no one ever explained, though she was in a hospital. The friend is sending money every month to keep them alive and the entire family hopes to cross over into Columbia soon to try to survive. Chavez is known by all there to be corrupt but keeps his majority through intimidation of the masses and payments of cash and jobs to his supporters. Their job is not only to report on dissenters but keep fear in those that want something better. For goodness sakes, his heroes are Castro and the dictator of Iran. How could anyone think he would be different from them in the treatment of his people?

Aug 05, 2012 12:22am EDT  --  Report as abuse
desertlover wrote:
Please keep Penn in Venezuela.

Aug 06, 2012 1:05am EDT  --  Report as abuse
fromthecenter wrote:
Penn was and still is an idiot.

Aug 06, 2012 1:46am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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