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Wednesday, 31 October 2007

The War on Democracy

When the United States talks about ‘bringing democracy to the world’, other countries have good reason to shiver with fear – especially if they happen to possess significant oil reserves. In this chilling documentary, journalist John Pilger investigates the sinister political activities of the US in South American countries like Bolivia, Venezuela and Chile. Here history tells of democratically elected governments toppled in favour of US-friendly dictatorships. It’s shocking to learn that Pinochet’s torture squads where even trained in the USA.

A lot of the material here is familiar, but Pilger puts it together in a cohesive and convincing fashion, and his interviews with swaggering ex-CIA operatives are frightening and funny at the same time. “World, get used to it!” drawls one old boy.

The film’s mood is hopeful, however, with a strong focus on recent People Power victories in Latin America, like Bolivia’s reclamation of its water resources. Topping-and-tailing the film is a somewhat adulatory interview with Venezuala’s beaming working class president, Hugo Chavez. Perhaps this was misjudged, but it’s highly entertaining and inspiring. Pilger’s evangelical style may irritate some, but his message is a timely and important one.

Rochelle Siemienowicz

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