I Am the People: Venezuela Under Populism

(El pueblo soy yo: Venezuela en populismo)
Carlos Oteyza | Documentary

2018 | 87 minutes | Mexico, Venezuela

In a world increasingly less transparent, where the shortcut of populism lurks to endanger democracies, I Am The People: Venezuela Under Populism compels us to ask ourselves if any society, however stable, can be considered invulnerable to a populist irruption and its consequences. Populism isn’t an ideology. It’s a way of governing.


In a world increasingly less transparent, where the shortcut of populism lurks to endanger democracies, I Am The People: Venezuela Under Populism compels us to ask ourselves if any society, however stable, can be considered invulnerable to a populist irruption and its consequences. Populism isn’t an ideology. It’s a way of governing.

I Am The People sets out to expose the skillful mechanisms of authoritarian power in the government initiated by Hugo Chávez and continued by Nicolás Maduro. The film uncovers the emergence of the charismatic leader at a time of crisis, and how ‒supported by soaring oil prices– he paved the way to seize institutions, polarize society, silence the media, and dismantle the production apparatus. All this, on behalf of the people.

A social historian, director Carlos Oteyza uses archive footage and interviews with experts to create views of the situation; describing the events from Chávez's failed coup to his rise and then the fall of the regime as discontent at economic failure and growing authoritarianism grows.

According to Oteyza, the documentary is not a review of the situation in Venezuela, because it is a situation that has not ended. It intends to expose how populism can endanger any democracy.


"The most accomplished audiovisual product about the disastrous figure of Hugo Chávez Frías... a poem of horror in motion." — Sebastian de la Nuez, Hableconmigo.com

"Whoever says he embodies the people, in Venezuela, the United States, Spain, Italy or Hungary, usurps the citizen's rights and duties in exchange for a protection based on lies." — Ana Alonso, El Independiente

"A portrait and radiography of a crisis that has led to the Venezuelan exodus being described as the largest forced displacement of people in the history of Latin America." — Anna Carolina Maier, The Objective

"'Brave' is a word that defines this filmmaker, who knows that he portrays a reality rulers don't like, but he prefers not to shut up and show it." — Anna Carolina Maier, The Objective

"The analysis, supported by the voices of sociologists, economists, political scientists and intellectuals, puts the focus on the ravages of populism, the relationship with Cuba and Castroism, militarization, censorship, clientelism networks disguised as social aids, or the annihilation of the adversaries..." — Francesco Manetto, El País

"An invitation to ponder, both for Venezuelans and foreigners. The first, so that we do not make the same mistakes again, and the latter, so that they distinguish populist traits in rulers or political leaders on time, and are able to rescue democracy which, even with its imperfections, is the best system of government created so far." —Lorena Arraiz, Revista Zeta

"A reflection that brings us answers to so many questions, helps us understand how the country reached its abominable situation, and... above all, a warning, an exhortation to the peoples of the world, since the author dismantles the mechanisms of authoritarian power." —Lilian Rosales, El Fizgón Magazine

Main credits

Oteyza, Carlos (film director)
Krauze, Enrique (film producer)
Barrera, Alberto (on-screen participant)
Rosa Torres, Ana (on-screen participant)
Mires, Fernando (on-screen participant)
Zanatta, Loris (on-screen participant)

Other credits

Cinematography, Branimir Caleta, Marcelo Castillo; editor, Israel García, Charles Ocando ; music, Álvaro Cordero.

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Guadalajara International Film Festival
History Film Festival, Croatia - Best Writing Prize
Chicago Latino Film Festival
Cine Las Americas International Film Festival
Boston Latino International Film Festival

DIRECTOR: Carlos Oteyza

NATIONALITY: Mexico, Venezuela

YEAR: 2018

GENRE: Documentary


COLOR / B&W: Color

GRADE LEVEL: High School, College, Adults



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