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Venezuela slams soap opera featuring dog named 'Little Hugo'

By Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
  • The show features two sisters, named "Colombia" and "Venezuela"
  • Venezuela's government says the show promotes "political and racial intolerance"
  • The show's producer says Venezuelan officials are taking it too seriously
  • Relations between the two countries soured last year, but have improved in recent months

(CNN) -- Venezuela's government is urging a television station to stop airing a Colombian soap opera featuring a character named "Venezuela" who has a tiny dog named "Little Hugo."

Venezuela's National Telecommunications Commission issued a statement Thursday slamming the "Chepe Fortuna" soap opera for its "degrading treatment of Venezuela" and urging the Televen station to "immediately stop airing" the program.

"It intends to underestimate the intelligence of viewers by presenting two characters identified as sisters, Colombia and Venezuela, where the latter is repeatedly characterized as associated with criminal activities," the statement said.

Producer and script writer Miguel Angel Baquero said Venezuelan officials are taking things too seriously, according to a statement posted on the website of RCN Radio, an affiliate of the television station that airs the show in Colombia.

"Here we are not underestimating anybody," he said. "This is humor. Making comedy is the most difficult thing to do, and to do it in a simple style that can successfully cross borders is even harder."

The Venezuelan commission posted what it said were video clips from the show on its website.

In one clip, "Venezuela" searches for her small dog, calling out: "Little Hugo? Baby? Baby? Cutie?"

In another, she cries as she talks to someone over the phone.

"What will become of Venezuela without Little Hugo?" she asks.

A man replies: "Venezuela will be free. Lately Little Hugo was defecating everywhere."

"After careful analysis, it was found that these contents promoted political and racial intolerance, xenophobia and incitement of crime," Venezuela's telecommunications commission said.

A summary of Monday's episode posted on the RCN website says: "Colombia is in contact with Fortune to tell him that she heard a very engaging conversation between Malvina and Anibal and is sure that they are lovers. On the other hand, the police came to search for Venezuela to arrest her for attempting to burn down the Carrier."

Baquero told RCN Radio that the show was "a comedy of manners that is only trying to entertain people."

"It's as if 'Ugly Betty' were censored because there are ugly women in the world," he said.

Last year relations between the neighboring countries soured over accusations that Venezuela was harboring Marxist guerrillas who wanted to overthrow the Colombian government.

But after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and newly elected Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos met in August, the two countries announced they had wiped the slate clean and would re-establish diplomatic relations.

Thursday's Venezuelan telecommunications commission statement also urged the Televen station to stop broadcasting the dating game show "12 Hearts," which it said "represented exhibitionism and obscenity, simplifying loving relations to mere sex, exploiting women and men like merchandise, in which people passionately kissed each other without having any emotional attachment, just to win a competition."