Crossing Our Borders delves into the problems that have faced Latin-America for more than 100 years - corrupt governments and dictators who perpetuate their power indefinitely forcing thousands to flee their countries to the United States and other nations, with the most recent example being Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. In Cuba, Fidel Castro socialist revolution produced a massive exodus of Cubans from the island. Over one million Cubans have fled the island to find refuge in the United States. A similar exodus took place in the southern cone during the second half of the XX century. Thousands of middle-class Chileans and Argentinians fled to democratic countries from the military dictatorships of Augusto Pinochet in Chile and Jorge Videla and Leopoldo Galtieri in Argentina. In Argentina more than 30,000 people disappeared, between 1976 and 1983 during the so-called dirty war waged by the dictators against political dissidents. Similarly, Augusto Pinochet killed more than 35,000 Chileans during his regime. The worst type of Latin American dictator has often been an incompetent and/or lowly ranked military officer: Juan Peron in Argentina, Velasco Alvarado in Peru, Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, Fulgencio Batista in Cuba, and Manuel Noriega in Panama and today Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. They didnt have outstanding military careers but had the audacity to take up arms against established often ineffective, governments.
The documentary also analyzes the characteristics of the process and the mechanisms utilized by some dictators to become autocrats. In Peru Alberto Fujimori remained in power for ten years while Hugo Chavez has been in power for ten years in Venezuela. Both presidents promoted a new constitution, progressively replaced institutional checks and balances and enlisted the support of the armed forces for their increasingly authoritarian regimes. Fujimori and Chavez closed down dissident media, newspapers and TV stations. They survived military rebellions. Both attempted unlimited re-elections using the democratic process while allowing very high levels of government corruption. Fujimoris government finally collapsed due to corruption while Hugo Chavezs regime is now highly weakened, due to financial mismanagement and rampant kidnapping, and delinquency in Venezuela. Transparency International has placed Venezuela as one of the most corrupt countries in the world and next to Haiti one of the most corrupt countries in Latin America. In addition to corruption kidnapping and murders have placed Venezuela as one of the most dangerous countries in Latin America. Over 16,900 died last year in the hands of common criminals under the Hugo Chavezs watch.