Sean Penn is, and always has been, an idiot. I have never understood why these Hollywood types love to trot around the globe and embrace leftist thugs like Chavez. In communist regimes, rich entertainers are either shot or forced to perform the party line for the masses. The world would be a better place if brutal, murderous thugs like Chavez simply dropped dead.
Chavez reminds me of Castro, worse in some ways better in others. Both claimed to be supporters of democracy as they limited democratic power. Both instituted reforms which helped the poor while alienating the upper and middle classes (well, effectively eliminating them in Castro's case). Both have a poor record of human rights abuses. And both grandstand about US foreign policy. Can't really blame them on that last one - particularly Castro. I give wide latitude to Castro being angry at the USA. If I tried to kill someone a dozen times, and they were mad at me about it, I wouldn't blame them.
Probably the highest praise I can give Chavez is he was granted enough power to basically end democracy and referendums completely, and he didn't do it. In fact, he let his decree power end in 2009.
But yeah. Thousands of killings by the police and army in Venezuela in the past 10 years (and endless reports of physical intimidation) should really give anyone pause before jumping to support Chavez and his government. My outlook is that trumps everything else.
I wonder what Sean Penn and other guys like him think of this. I mean, I'd be pretty surprised if he didn't know about it. Maybe he just chooses not to believe it? Well, perhaps I'm being unfair. Does he actually think Chavez and his government are good, or was his only point that he was elected democratically? Don't know the rest of the context I don't know about "most transparent" but *most* reports say his elections were fair, at least in the sense the votes were genuine.