On ‘The War on Democracy’, by Ada Gokay

‘The War on Democracy’, a 2007 documentary film directed by Christopher Martin and John Pilger, shows the current and past relationship of the US with Latin American countries such as Venezuela, Bolivia and Chile.


‘The War on Democracy’, using archive footage, illustrates the true, ugly face of US involvement in Latin American region. The North American Empire is alive and well. Colonialism did not end with the countries of Latin America winning independence from their European powers. In this supposed “vacuum” stepped in the new global hegemon – the United States – with its mission to emulate its own perceived economic and political “successes” in Latin America, through key institutiopns of IMF and World Bank, while stifling any chance for a challenge to its hegemony to occur. The 1950 coup in Guatemala overthrowing elected president Jacobo Arbenz is one example of this imperialism at work. The School of the Americas in the US state of Georgia, where Pinochet’s torture squads were trained along with local tyrants and death squads in Haiti, El Salvador, Brazil and Argentina in the 1970s and 1980s (that Pilger discusses in the film) is another. And from the 1990s until now, economic imperialism is the more common – Pilger gives us the case of Chile, the “model” Latin American country; that of course Pinochet laid the groundwork for. This film places the Latin American struggle against US imperialism in a global context. Their case is not isolated. This endless chain of dependency (as Eduardo Galeano calls it) must be cut – ever since the “discovery”, Latin American resources have been pillaged and transmuted into European (or now North American) capital. That is why these new leaders – Chavez, Morales, perhaps Correa in Ecuador, Lula’s successor Dilma in Brazil, Mujica in Uruguay (imprisoned and tortured during the Uruguayan dictatorship, like Dilma was in Brazil) – are some hope that not all can be bullied by their northern neighbour. As one woman in the film says “I believe the people will wake up and say ‘that’s enough’ “.

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