Charlie Chaplin’s classic black-and-white movie Modern Times highlighted the exploitation and horrendous conditions faced by US factory workers during the Depression. Venezuela’s leader Hugo Chavez believes it is as relevant today as it ever was.
Charlie Chaplain in ‘Modern Times’
At factories and meeting halls across Caracas, Mr Chavez’s government has been showing the film to workers to expose what he believes are the evils of capitalism, and cement support for his socialist administration.
“I definitely think that what he is doing is to show the workers there what capitalism is about,” said Gregory Wilpert, editor of venezuelanalys.com. “It is to reinforce the socialist ideas that his government has recently been proclaiming.”
Officials said the 1936 silent film starring Chaplin, Paulette Goddard and Henry Bergman, has been shown about 1,000 times since January in 14 different states to educate workers who have little knowledge about their health and safety rights in the workplace. One Venezuelan official said that 1,500 workers died and thousands more were injured annually in factory accidents. One scene in the movie shows Chaplin’s character, the Little Tramp, being pulled through a huge machine as he seeks to tighten a bolt.
“Once inside the factory, workers had no meaningful rights,” Richard Shickel, a film critic, told The Los Angeles Times. “It was very relevant in the moment it was released, a time of social unrest and the emerging US labour movement.”
In Venezuela, business owners are outraged….