GEORGE BUSH loves to lecture us about how his war on terror is all about preserving freedom and spreading democracy. What he doesn’t tell us is how for the past 50 years, the US has covertly tried to crush both in a bid to control South America, or The Back Yard as it’s known. It’s a war of terror that’s left hundreds of thousands dead and allowed brutal dictators like Chile’s Augusto Pinochet to flourish.
Written and narrated by John Pilger, this documentary – tagline, ‘Never believe anything until it is officially denied’ – looks at how Washington has been overthrowing governments it doesn’t like for years.
The movie kicks off with a look at Venezuela, a country that, despite huge oil wealth, has been gripped by poverty for years. But not any more. Since the election of Hugo Chavez in 1998, the literacy rate has shot up to 100 per cent thanks to an education programme for the very poor, while a bill of rights means everyone’s protected from tyranny.
Castigated in the West as “the next Cuba”, the country is actually a prime example of democracy at work. But democratically-elected or not, the US has become a firm enemy of the popular Venezuelan leader after the snouts of its multinationals were kicked out of the trough. Small wonder then that it funded the opposition groups who led an unsuccessful coup in 2002 in a bid to overthrow Chavez, tear up his reforms and install a dictatorship.
Add interviews with the victims of US-funded oppression – including a moving chat with a nun who was gang-raped by a Washington-backed death squad in El Salvador – and you have one of the most powerful documentaries of the year. But perhaps the most chilling revelation is that the States even runs a torture training camp for would-be dictators in Georgia.