“War on Democracy” reveals Sinister US administration

2 Sep

John Pilger

“Most of my films have told stories of people’s struggles against rapacious power and of attempts to subvert and control our historical memory. It is this control, this organised forgetting, that has always intrigued me both as a film-maker and a journalist. Described by Harold Pinter as a great silence unbroken by the incessant din of the media age, it assures the powerful in the west that the struggle of whole societies against their crimes is merely “superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged… It never happened. Even while it was happening it never happened. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest“.

The rising of Latin America – the genesis of ‘The War On Democracy’, 13 Jun 2007 by John Pilger

Though John Pilger has made as many as 55 films for television, “War on Democracy is his first debut effort for the big screen. His previous documentaries such as the 1979, ‘Year Zero’ highlighted the suffering of Cambodians under Pol Pot while “Death of a Nation” in 1994 revealed the plight of the East Timorese. Besides his films, Pilger’s equally impressive journalistic credentials include being award Journalist of the Year twice in Britain notably for his work in Cambodia and Vietnam. He is also awarded the Sophie Prize for thirty years of work in exposing deception and improving human rights. So respected he is that, nobel peace prize winner, Harold Pinter has “saluted his work”. It is this relentless uncovering of the covert operations by the US governments to overthrow democratically elected Latin American governments that dominate this film.

Regardless of how much the audience knows about John Pilger, his work, Latin America or the United States of America, War on Democracy sheds light on how the previous and current US governments are often complicit in shadowy dealings and the masterminds in imposing Latin American dictatorships, under the guise of importing “democracy”.

Pilger starts the film by rolling his reels in Venezuela, a country from which America imports 15% of its oil. He interviews various people from all walks of life ranging from the poor in the barrios of Caracas, the capital of Venezuela to the middle class elites, incidentally fairer skin folks; and even President, Hugo Chavez himself. It makes for compelling watching to hear of how the poor adores their President while snippets of corporate television news reporting denounces Chavez. This should put to rest the claims of President’s “authoritarian” streak. The 2002 coup, which America denies being involved is another piece of alarming political theatre. There is nothing new with this act as the US is merely following its tradition of deposing Latin American governments if they do not adhere to the Washington Consensus.

Pilger also travels to other countries such as Guatemala, Chile, El Salvador and Bolivia. In Guatemala, democratically elected Jacobo Arbenz was overthrown in 1954 while a pro- US puppet regime that would do the favours of US based United Fruit’s Company is installed. In Chile, Pinochet’s terror police were trained in Schools of Americas who were taught torture techniques. The claims were corroborated by ex CIA trainers themselves and anecdotes of surviving activists who were tortured during the dictatorship. Perhaps, US arrogance mentality and streak is most evident during the the interview with Duane Clarridge, former head of CIA for South America, who opined that all those deaths were necessary at the expense of “national security”. Contrast that with the red eyed and hesitant nun’s account of her harrowing abduction, rape and torture. Though Pinochet is now gone, Chile remains deeply divided by its wealth disparity gap – of one class living in a “modernised and affluent” society dominated by skyscrapers and the other, in downtrodden shanty towns. This is the type of “democracy” which America and its financial corporations favour.

War on Democracy weaves together a mosaic of the the historical struggle of the peoples in the South American continent. While deeply moving and humane, it is also inspirational in showing people power and how it can overcome the US empire’s insidious dominance plans – in the affective scene where ordinary people stream from the barrios in Caracas to Miraflores Palace demanding their beloved President Chavez be restored to power.

It also incorporates a historical and contemporary context of how and why the US administration is so intent on “importing democracy” and why this declaration is not only hollow but sets out to do the reverse.


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