Oliver Stone’s new documentary, “South of the Border” – co-written by CEPR’s Mark Weisbrot – opened in U.S. theaters last week, starting with New York last weekend where it had the highest average theater earnings for a U.S. film in the country. Now audiences in LA, Pasadena, Santa Ana and Northern Virginia will get a chance to see the film, with Q and A sessions with Stone in LA today and Mark in Arlington today and tomorrow.The film explores themes familiar to readers of Mark’s op-ed’s and columns: the new independence of South American nations from Washington, most notably from the U.S. State Department and international financial institutions (most importantly, the International Monetary Fund). The film also focuses on why U.S. relations with the region have deteriorated to such a degree; U.S. involvement in the 2002 coup d’Etat against Hugo Chavez – documented in the film and the film’s website – is contrasted with statements from leaders such as Brazilian president Lula da Silva and Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa on their request for respect and treatment as equals by the U.S.
This background, meanwhile, is complemented by a number of clips from major U.S. TV news programs that refer – in many cases in straight reporting (not opinion) – to Chavez and Bolivian president Evo Morales as “dictators”, assert that Chavez is a “declared enemy” of the U.S., and other jingoistic statements. As the audience sees these clips, Stone ponders why the U.S. seeks to “create enemies”, with a short summary of the U.S. media’s complicity in allowing the Bush administration to mislead the country into war as a reminder of how the State Department sets the tone in international relations. The parallels between this event and relations with Venezuela are further explored in an interview of Chavez in which he suggests that both the U.S. invasion of Iraq and U.S. support for the 2002 Venezuelan coup had the same motive: oil.
Not surprisingly, the film is not a favorite of many major U.S. media outlets so far, but interest in the film is growing, with new theater showings being booked and several recent TV and radio interviews with Oliver Stone, Mark, and other filmmakers taking a closer look at the film and the important issues it covers. As some reviewers and commentators have noted, the film explores a topic that the major U.S. media has largely missed so far: the new and enduring independence of much of Latin America from the United States. Go see the film and decide for yourself whether you think this is a story worth telling.
Follow this link to see when South of the Border is playing near you.