By Jennifer Armstrong
Updated March 30, 2010 at 10:47 AM EDT

Sean Penn’s Colors costar Maria Conchita Alonso has written an open letter to him on the website Newsbusters in response to the actor’s recent comments in support of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Alonso, who was raised in Venezuela, wrote the letter in response to Penn’s interview on the March 5 episode of Real Time with Bill Maher in which he said that Chavez had won the presidency in “14 of the most transparent elections in the globe, and been elected democratically.” She writes: “Even though I have great respect for your artistic talent, I was appalled by a recent television interview where you vigorously showed support for the regime of Hugo Chavez. Therefore, I’ve decided to set the record straight for you regarding the Chavez regime, supporting my case based not only on my political ideologies, but on proven facts you choose to ignore. Otherwise, I believe your position would be different.” She says that the Chavez regime has been marred by lack of free speech, disputed elections, violence, and poverty. “My intention isn’t to convince you, but to let you know what is truly happening in this beautiful country of noble people, Venezuela,” she says. “I would encourage you to investigate in depth the ‘inside story’ and realize for yourself the dark side behind the person you choose to idolize.”