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Award winning journalist John Pilger examines the role of Washington in America's manipulation of Latin American politics during the last 50 years leading up to the struggle by ordinary people to free themselves from poverty and racism. Since the mid 19th Century Latin America has been the 'backyard' of the US, a collection of mostly vassal states whose compliant and often brutal regimes have reinforced the 'invisibility' of their majority peoples. The film reveals similar CIA policies to be continuing in Iraq, Iran and Lebanon. The rise of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez despite ongoing Washington backed efforts to unseat him in spite of his overwhelming mass popularity, is democratic in a way that we have forgotten or abandoned in the west. True Democracy being a solid 80% voter turnout in support of Chavez in over 6 elections. Written by
Now, all over Venezuela, ordinary people have free health care, many seeing a doctor for the first time in their lives... Under the constitution, the poorest housewives are now paid as workers.
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A labor of love on the part of Pilger, a long-time activist for peace and freedom for all, Pilger journeys into several Latin American countries-Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela, and Chile, and documents efforts being made to broaden the accessibility of freedom. He documents the populism promulgated by leaders by Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales, the President of relatively poor Bolivia, to promote the values of true democracy, in which the poor are franchised and invested in the well-being of the country. Pilger talks to people who were adversely affected by CIA-backed coups in many of these same South and Central American countries during the second half of the 20th century, making a powerful witness to the deleterious effect of greed and the disproportionate allocation of power in the hands of a few. The work of the CIA on behalf of US corporately acceptable "leaders" is documented; much of this is not new, but Pilger's main accomplishment is collating and connecting the material on so many foreign interventions by the CIA.
A wise cinematographic decision by Pilger is to interview and show the people of these nations. They appear decent and it is important for Westerners to realize that they have a lot in common with the so-called impoverished. Beneath our different exteriors, we share many characteristics. Also, the footage of the countries, and often just the day-to-day lives are lovely and the mountainous backdrops of Bolivia, Peru, and Chile, are beautiful. Pilger makes a strong case for government conducted on behalf of the people and interviews Chavez, allowing him to make his case for such a rule-of-law. Pilger interviews a couple of CIA sources, including the head of the CIA in South America during the mid-1980s. He asks him whether the ouster of Allende had been justified and the man states that the ends had to justify the means. He also said that US interests were protected via the installation of Pinochet, failing to recognize the contrast between US claims of respect for democratically elected governments and US intervention when the US, oh.....felt like it. Pilger's decision to refuse to interrupt while the man put his foot in his mouth and re-affirmed the importance of protecting US interests over even sovereign governments, seems wise. The man only seems all the more out-of-touch and arrogant for his unapologetic defense of autocracy. This is a powerful indictment of greed and of the possible benefits available to ALL if the US will allow sovereign governments to work autonomously. Notably, the film is available via Google Video for those interested.
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