There’s another China post coming, but I’ve been a bit lazy about finishing the translation in after-work hours. The Humanaught is to blame for my latest procrastination after he recommended John Pilger’s latest documentary, The War on Democracy. I remembered that recommendation last night, so I headed off here. And, well, that was that for the night as far as unpaid work was concerned. So, to misquote a frequent commenter at various China blogs, "bad, bad Humanaught."
It’s not that Pilger says anything much new in the film. The early stages about Venezuela should already be well known to anyone who reads. Or perhaps I should say it should be known to anyone whose reading goes beyond the Weekly Standard, the New York Times and the Economist. (I should also have mentioned the Washington Post.) And the later subjects - El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile and Bolivia - these have all been described extensively in the past, including by Pilger himself.
But he brings in some fantastic interviews that build on each other to create a whole that is not just another polemic. It’s a call to arms. A declaration of freedom on behalf of the poor who refuse to be downtrodden anymore.
It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. But for those do like it, here’s another much earlier film from 1983 - another example of a country whose people stood up and were promptly stamped on by their neighbors to the north. In this case, Nicaragua, Pilger’s views were echoed by my Conservative MP in Britain who was part of an all-party parliamentary fact-finding mission to Nicaragua in the early 1980s. I spoke to him when he came back to England. He and his colleagues recommended to Margaret Thatcher that she should stop supporting Reagan’s terrorist campaign. They said that the Sandinistas might not be perfect, but compared to almost all other governments in the region, Nicaragua had become an island of freedom. The MPs’ report was ignored.
Seven years later, as the 1990 election in Nicaragua was approaching, the brother of a former Central American government minister said to me:
"I hope the Sandinistas lose. I know… its not fair… it’s not right. But the Americans will never stop. They’ll never give up. Until we all do what they want, they will never let us have peace and it’s hurting all of us. We just can’t take it anymore."
Nicaraguans said the same in that election. With around 30,000 of them killed by the "freedom-fighting," drug-running Contras who murdered villagers and raped nuns, they’d had enough too and they voted the Sandinistas out.
Now, Latin America is saying it’s had enough again. But it’s not rolling over this time. It’s had enough of the thieves who stole the natural wealth of their countries - the people’s birthright - and gave much of it to foreign corporations. It’s had enough of the Washington Consensus and the IMF that denied them health care, education and jobs.
The people are standing up again, and there are too many of them saying no to the old order for old terrorist tactics to work so easily. They’ve seen it all before.
(One last note on the Venezuela part of The War on Democracy: part of the footage is taken from the RTE documentary The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. Beg, borrow or steal it - or buy it. But watch it.)