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Chávez touts new gas cartel, walks red carpet with Oliver Stone

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez – who meets today with "Europe's last dictator" to discuss the formation of a gas cartel akin to OPEC – was all smiles yesterday during his surprise VIP appearance at the star-studded Venice Film Festival.

He threw a flower to the crowd, touched his heart, and even grabbed a photographer's camera to take a photo of himself as he strolled the red carpet with American filmmaker Oliver Stone. Mr. Chávez was on hand to be feted for the premier of Mr. Stone's new documentary "South of the Border," which aims to portray Chávez and other Latin American leftist leaders in a positive light. (Next up for Stone? A documentary about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.)

"South of the Border" slams US media for demonizing Chávez. "You can't get a fair hearing for Chávez. It's an outrageous caricature they've drawn of him in the Western press," Stone told Variety.

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