By Richard Duckett
Telegram & Gazette Staff

Posted Apr 19, 2018 at 8:00 PM

The panel discussion will be at 2 p.m. April 28, followed by the screening of the documentary “The Experiment of Venezuela” at 3:30 p.m. April 28.

“The Experiment of Venezuela” was made 18 years after the election of Chavez brought in a form of socialism that was initially praised in many circles. The documentary includes testimonials by citizens forming long queues outside supermarkets and pharmacies, records a political rally for President Maduro and follows opposition politician Henrique Capriles in a favela. Among others, Lilian Tintori, the wife of imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, talks about political prisoners in Venezuela.

Chavez had proclaimed the ideology of “socialism of the 21st century” and it has been continued by President Maduro. The May 20 election has been boycotted by Capriles and the main opposition Democratic Union coalition, which says it will be fraudulent. However, Henri Falcon, an ex-state governor and former ally of Chavez, is running.

“There’s many questions in the short term,” said Rodriguez Giolitti. “The biggest concern is the presidential election that will take place on May 20. Many countries and institutions are already saying they will not validate the result of the election.”

One question is “are people going to feel comfortable going out to vote?” Rodriguez Giolitti said.

Rodriguez Giolitti was being interviewed from Venezuela via translators in a telephone conference call. A well-known face and voice in Venezuela, he began his career in the media at 17. In 1989 he joined Venevision, one of the major TV networks in Venezuela. He has also been the morning host for Union Radio. Rodriguez Giolliti has won several prestigious awards for journalism and regularly speaks at conferences, saying, “I am fortunate to be consulted by students all over my country.”

Concerning his ability to speak freely under the current circumstances, he said, “There is pressure, there is sensitivity on the government side” about reporting. But he said he considers it his “duty as a reporter” to be objective in his reporting and comments.

The reality of what’s going on is that “people want a change … there’s a huge crisis politically and socially. There are many challenges.” But with that “also many opportunities,” he said. “It’s a great country with many (natural) characteristics that will allow it to make a quick recovery.”

CENTRO (formerly Centro Las Americas) is a community service organization with an array of programs. Its Latino Film Festival each spring has become a Worcester tradition, as has its Latin American Festival in August.

Last year the film festival put Cuba in the spotlight.

In addition to CENTRO, major sponsors for this year’s film festival include Clark University, The Fay School, Worcester Academy, La MEGA 106.1 and El Vocero Hispano.

Rodriguez Giollitti said he feels “very honored” to be invited to Worcester to participate in the festival. “I’m very excited about being there.”