Stone's 'Border' Shows Fall of South America's Berlin Wall

On April 13, 2002, an event occurred in Venezuela which was as
world-historical for South America as the fall of the Berlin Wall was
for Eastern Europe: a U.S.-backed coup against the
democratically-elected government of Venezuela collapsed. The Bush
Administration's efforts to promote the coup failed, in the face of
popular resistance in Venezuela, and diplomatic resistance in the

The failure of the Bush Administration's effort to overthrow President
Chavez was world-historical for South America because it sent a
powerful new signal about the limits of the ability of the United
States to thwart popular democracy in the region. In the years prior
to the reversal of the U.S.-backed coup, popular movements in South
America had suffered from a widespread "Allende syndrome": a key
legacy of the U.S.-orchestrated overthrow of democracy in Chile in
1973 was the widespread belief that there was a sharp limit to the
popular economic reforms that could be achieved through the ballot
box, because the United States simply wouldn't allow formal democracy
in the region to respond to the economic needs of the majority.

Following the reversal of the U.S.-backed coup, a succession of
Presidents were elected across South America promising to reverse the
disastrous economic policies promoted by Washington in the region
through the International Monetary Fund for the previous twenty years
and to promote instead the economic interests of the majority: Brazil
elected Lula in 2002, Argentina elected Nestor Kirchner in 2003,
Bolivia elected Evo Morales in 2005, Ecuador elected Rafael Correa in
2006, and Paraguay elected Fernando Lugo in 2008.

The story of this dramatic transformation has been largely untold in
the United States. Our major corporate media are largely uninterested
in the freedom narrative of South America, because it's significantly
a narrative of freedom from control by U.S. institutions, and because
the battle is ongoing, as shown recently by Washington's fury at
Brazil for working against a U.S. push for new sanctions against Iran,
and by Ecuador's decision to recall its ambassador after Israel's
attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

But on Friday, Oliver Stone's new documentary South of the Border
opens in New York (currently scheduled screenings nationwide are here). In this
movie, Stone tells the story that the U.S. media has missed. Because
it's an Oliver Stone movie, and because it's being commercially
distributed, there's a strong possibility that many Americans who are
not connected to the alternative press could have the opportunity to
see and hear this story for the first time.

Stone introduces us to leaders that most people in the United States
have never had the opportunity to see speaking for themselves.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez explains the Bush Administration's
effort to overthrow him:

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa, who got his PhD in Economics from
the University of Illinois, explains why he followed through on his
campaign promise to get rid of the U.S. military base at Manta:

And Brazil's President Lula da Silva -- recently vilified in the U.S.
media for his efforts to mediate a deal between the U.S. and Iran on
Iran's nuclear program, with pundits demanding that Brazil "get back
in its lane" -- explains that he has no interest in fighting with the
U.S., but only wants to be treated as equals:

If many Americans get to see it, this could be Oliver Stone's most
important movie in terms of its social impact, because it's
forward-looking: it's a about a conflict that's going on right now and
will continue in the future, pitting a South America that both wants
to govern itself in the interests of the majority and speak its voice
without fear in world affairs against the latter-day devotees of the
Monroe Doctrine who want to keep the region subservient to the
interests of U.S. elites.

One would have hoped that Americans who saw Stone's Vietnam movies --
Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July -- would be much
more likely to oppose the imperial quagmire in Afghanistan. But with
so much of the media under corporate control, we need popular
documentaries that speak directly to the issues of the day. South
of the Border
speaks directly to the relationship between the U.S.
and South America. If many Americans see it, it could help bring about
a fundamental transformation in U.S. policy towards all of Latin
America. Maybe, "sooner
rather than later," as President Allende once said, we'll be able
to look back at last year's U.S.-supported coup in Honduras and say
with confidence that it was the last.

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