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Hidden in Plain Sight (2003)

A feature length documentary by John H. Smihula




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Credited cast:
Sanford Bishop ...
Himself (as Rep. Sanford Bishop)
Eduardo Galeano ...
Barbara Lee ...
Interviewee (as Rep. Barbara Lee)
Narrator (voice)


An investigation of the US relationship to Latin America as seen through the prism of the SOA, the controversial training school for Latin soldiers on U.S. ground. Narrated by Martin Sheen, the documentary features interviews with political thinkers (Noam Chomsky, Christopher Hitchens, Eduardo Galeano), Congresspersons (Barbara Lee, Mac Collins), Army officers (Maj. Gen. John LeMoyne),victims and social activists (Sister Dianna Ortiz) who tackle the issues of U.S. economic and military policies in Latin America, the war on drugs, and terrorism. Written by John H. Smihula

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Is the " School of the Americas" a force of democracy or a "School of Assassins"?








Release Date:

7 November 2003 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$300,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

Who remain?
16 November 2003 | by (Athens, Georgia) – See all my reviews

After viewing, I barely had the energy to begin a discussion but negligence is dangerous, which is the heart of the message in this documentary of activism against the School of the Americas (renamed Western Hemispheric Institute for Security and Cooperation 2001). The flagship school for U.S. foreign policy in Latin America, WHISC teaches paramilitary organizational culture, with commando tactics and operational procedures (drug raids, counter-insurgency, psychopolitical propaganda, etc..) rounding out the program. Students stay anywhere from one to six months. The film highlights the most objectionable aspects of the Institute with conscious reflection of both sides of the debate, providing exclusive interviews, media footage, and factual presentation.

The vociferous activist slant points out the nefarious goals of such foreign policy: protection of corporate interests in L. America (greed, cheap labour, resource grabbing), propping up convenient dictatorships (via the Contras), and exporting democratic principles of leadership. The documentary touches on the ethics of globalization in Latin America, revolution, indigenous culture, human rights, and the environment.

The activists state their case quite clearly: anti-groupthink, Christian values (thou shalt not kill), healing (versus militancy), and solidarity with the poor (not the powerful). The pro-Institute side makes its case and this makes for a solid view of the debate if not the intrinsic realities of American foreign policy. Updated over the 1994 video "School of Assassins" and lengthier. 8 out of 10.

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