Hugo Chávez has got a new socialist telenovela.
Venezuela’s leftwing president saw a longstanding dream come to life last week with the premiere of “Teresa in Three Stations,” a soap opera with collectivist ethics.
The series, produced by filmmaker Delfina Catalá, tells the story of three ordinary woman’s daily struggles against the setting of the country’s only train line, which the Chávez government constructed. (Spanish speakers can check out the trailer below)
“Dude, we should film a telenovela here,” Chávez said during the 2006 inauguration of the line connecting the town of Valles del Tuy to the capital of Caracas, according to Spain’s El Correo.
Chávez says he became “addicted” to telenovelas while serving jail time for his attempted coup in 1992, according to Spain’s 20 Minutos. But while he never missed an episode, he also longed for a series modeled on Cuban television, which exalts socialist ideals rather than capitalist individualism and conspicuous consumption.
State broadcaster Televisora Venezolana Social will run the telenovela on weekdays for half an hour on the channel once occupied by RCTV, a private television station that was pulled from public broadcasting in 2007 and pushed off private stations in 2010, raising questions about freedom of the press.
Others, like former Associated Press correspondent and Hugo Chávez biographer Bart Jones, accuse RCTV of supporting an attempted coup in 2002 and providing biased coverage, which they view as the driving force behind the Chávez government’s decision to push RCTV off the air.
A previous attempt at a socialist soap opera, “Loves from Deep in the Barrio,” flopped in 2004, 20 Minutos reports. The telenovela, whose name in Spanish refers to a Chávez medical assistance program called “Barrio Adentro,” was carried by the same state broadcaster.