Coup at Amnesty International: Venezuelan Human Rights, Canadian Film Festivals and Censorship

I

I used to canvass for Amnesty International. They are one of several progressive but not openly radical NGOs I have worked for, and the experience has taught me a great deal about talking politics to strangers. I’ve had some serious misgivings about working with the organization, as I did not share Amnesty’s penchant for being “extra tough” on those very countries that the United States or other imperialist countries have lined up through their militarist or colonialist sights.  Nonetheless, I preferred to spend my wage-earning days talking about Guantánamo Bay, even if I put a stress on that issue that AI in general did not.

I also spoke to people about the real life example of a man I met who was a former dissident from Iran.  He told me his story of getting out of Iran, only to arrive in Pakistan and somehow then make it to Canada. Once he arrived, he was told that he didn’t qualify as a political refugee and was to be deported back to Iran directly, as Pakistan didn’t want him either. AI apparently took up his case and shortly thereafter he was recognized as a legitimate human rights political refugee case; he says Amnesty saved his life by taking up the case and stepping into the breach with the Canadian Government.  This story became the “personal touch” I used to help bring in enough donations and memberships to safely keep my job.

I also used to quietly enjoy it when people saw me with an AI clipboard and busted my chops over it, with biting questions¾such as the time when a First Nations woman on a motorized wheelchair asked me “What good would that do for Leonard Peltier?” or when I’ve heard comments about how AI had once upon a time pushed the very same incubator-babies-on-the-floor story that the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador told in order to help unleash a bombing on Iraq in 1991. Combined with the post-war sanctions, infrastructure destruction, and of course the initial 300,000 killed in the ‘91 aerial war, AI’s supposed gaffe helped in its small but not insignificant way to touch off what would eventually end the lives of up to 2 million Iraqis prematurely. All of this before George W Bush’s military invaded and occupied the country last year in violation of International Law and human rights (that Amnesty has publicly yet quietly opposed). Those of us who questioned them about their use of the incubator story have never heard more than regret; no apology or sufficient explanation has ever been given. One thing I learned as a canvasser for this group is how many genuinely well-meaning people trust what Amnesty has to say.  Their repeating of the U.S.-sponsored lies on the eve of the ‘91 war is a definitively big deal. They do indeed sway people with their pronouncements.

Further, AI uncritically swallows the U.S. State Department story on what is happening in Cuba with what AI calls “dissidents.” It is one thing for a group that has a general line on the death penalty to express that principled line when it comes to Cuba; even many supporters of the Castro government have expressed discomfort or condemnation of the use of the death penalty on the island. It is another matter entirely to ignore the collected data on groups and individuals that have been trying to form a fifth column on behalf of (and in connivance with) the great, merciless military superpower to the North. In fact, this is not simply missing information.  To ignore the Miami-based terrorists¾who organize bombings of planes and hotels, destruction of food crops, tobacco and sugar harvests, and even the poisoning of school children’s milk—is not oversight nor objectivity; it is taking sides with the U.S. in their war against the besieged Cuban revolutionary government.  Amnesty now also wants people to “demand” that Cuba release recently convicted agents of that same superpower, calling them “dissidents.” Meanwhile, on the great scandal of the Cuban Five (the anti-terrorist Cubans imprisoned in the U.S. for penetrating the Miami terrorist cells), Amnesty is silent.

As I would stand on the street corner with my Amnesty badge and pen in hand, people raised Cuba with me often, but few were worried about Castro forcing kids to go to school. Many mentioned the American prison camp for Muslims in Guantánamo. Here Amnesty has raised the issue fairly clearly, enough that when I worked in the affluent districts (such as Vancouver’s West End) people got mad at “me” for it. Yet the language used by Amnesty is still viciously problematic. Addressing Cuba, the AI campaigns “demand” this and “call for pressure” that. With the United States, you are asked to “urge the government,” to “get your senator to strongly suggest” or hope for “reconsideration” from the President himself as to the “implications.” All one has to do is go to the 2002 Amnesty report on the state of human rights to see the glaring difference in language employed in the two cases of the U.S. and of Cuba. Though a former Nobel Peace Prize winner, Amnesty does not stand as neutral as they would like us to think.

While you are looking at these annual reports, please look through Venezuela as well. In their report much of the entire year’s entry is taken up by discussion of the failed coup of April 2002. Amnesty International states that the coup attempt was responsible for the deaths of over 50 people, that the 48-hour dictatorship invoked draconian measures, including dissolving the legal parliament and supreme court, establishing martial law, and even renaming the republic. These and many other points all appear in the Amnesty Report. So when “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Inside the Coup in Venezuela” was added to the many films on the bill for the annual Amnesty International Film Festival on human rights, it really wasn’t a big deal. The film had been shown on the BBC in Britain and at least twice on the CBC here in Canada. It has won far more awards than any other film on the 4-day bill. I had already seen this documentary and I would without hesitation call it one of the most important films since “Panama Deception” or “Manufacturing Consent” in exposing the ways that the media can be party to gross human rights violations, even helping orchestrate a coup against a democratically elected government. And here I’ll make my bias clear: What a democratically elected government it is!

II

The rise of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela has roughly mirrored my own development as an activist. Though I was first involved politically just before the protests against the APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit in Vancouver back in 1997, I first felt a part of something far larger than myself or this city around the turn of the Millennium when I attended the “Battle of Seattle” and the rising consciousness of the people spread to the First World—several years after similar events in countries from Korea to Mexico and, of course, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

One of the common themes that unites the movement of newly concerned activists in the First World has been a deep desire for expanding democracy—from popular participation (in the form of non-hierarchical organizations) to organizing along the lines of “consensus” models, with no votes and no coercion whatsoever. Like all great movements, there are many wings to this one: some openly call for the abolition of any form of state, eschew voting mechanisms and are denunciatory of referendums, which they see as inherently reformist. At the opposite end of the spectrum are those who want First World organizations to adopt models based on amalgams of NGOs, Trade Unions and other reform-oriented groups, to the exclusion of any with a more thorough critique of the system. They prefer to imagine that the movement here can slowly encompass all sectors of society save for the most doggedly bourgeois, and that at some magical point this movement will then switch over from a sentiment of humanitarianism to one of an entirely new society. This transformation often is very vaguely talked about, too far off for us to comprehend properly. For either of these political approaches, little about the realities of the newly emerging movement is learned.

We need to have something to accomplish. Not making demands of those who speak in the name of democracy leaves us unable to garner small victories that build momentum—such as when we defended our inherent democratic right to demonstrate in the streets of Quebec City against the FTAA by tearing down the Wall, calling it a violation of our constitutional rights (an “inquiry” has now vindicated this position1). To call either for complete revolution or for only singing songs in empty parking lots is to betray the basic impetus of this movement.

Hugo Chávez first started to seem to me as though he was part of this new movement when the Venezuelan delegation at the Quebec City summit—alone at the meeting—refused to sign onto the FTAA without having every country hold a referendum on it. If the dialectic is to mean anything, it certainly means exposing hypocrisy in the rumblings of the “free democracies.” Demonstrators have done this by refusing to be hemmed into small pens, where “rights” are apportioned inside an area marked as “safe” and police keep close guard for too much democratic expression. Chávez’s “Movement for a Fifth Republic” has done this by the same basic line: no talks without participation, no trade deals without sovereignty. At the same FTAA negotiations, Venezuela alone would not simply sign a declaration about all states being committed to representative democracy; Venezuela insisted upon the inclusion of the word “participatory,” refusing to sign without it. It is indeed very instructive that the governments that speak daily about bringing democracy to Iraq, Palestine, Colombia and Afghanistan with aerial bombing campaigns are at the same time unwilling to talk publicly about expanding the democratic participation of their own citizenry. That kind of message has been coming from Venezuela long before the so-called anti-globalization movement (and now the anti-war movement) started to say the very same things. In a sense, then, we owe the Venezuelans for standing up for all of us; we should stand up for them now. Solidarity is a two-way street, is it not?

While the ideals of democracy and human rights that Amnesty International has ostensibly held up are indeed laudable, they are also quite narrowly defined. Not so on Venezuela’s part. As the film documents, the first actions of the government were to hold a referendum on the re-writing of a constitution. After writing the new constitution was approved by an overwhelming mandate, it was then done in direct consultation with the population, well over 70% of whom live in abject to desperate poverty, despite the fact that Venezuelans live on top of the world’s fourth largest oil reserves and are America’s number three or four supplier, depending upon who you ask. The constitution has since become practically required reading for all involved in expanding and deepening the democratic process. The new constitution makes clear that human rights are also social; human beings are only freely able to express their democratic will when not hungry and when able to read. Human health is a prerequisite for a healthy polity. Or, put another way, human rights exist as a part of the larger society and as a social phenomenon, not as an abstract concept for middle-class philosophy students to pontificate on. They live and breathe, and are enshrined in the new Venezuela, still emerging, and still too often misunderstood or unheard of.

III

So, two days before the Film Festival began, when I received an email that the very Venezuelan lobby that the documentary exposed as violators of human rights had successfully “persuaded” AI not to let the film be shown, I was personally taken aback. A campaign to defend this film was a gut-level response, for three main reasons:  1) to help promote the viewing of one of the most important films to come along in many years;  2) to help build a better understanding of—and hopefully solidarity with—the democratic revolutionary process in Venezuela;  and 3) to expose the hypocrisy of Amnesty International on this question and hopefully get people to reconsider and reexamine the true nature of the organization itself.

Besides, after working as a canvasser and promoting a group I was often at odds with on certain (acute) questions—such as the nature of what human rights actually are—I really must admit the role of fun, the sheer pleasure of tweaking the nose of AI on such an obvious point. Amnesty, after all, has always promoted itself as being in favor of letter-writing, petition-signing, emailing and phone-in campaigns—just like the one we were launching now. The irony was, in a word, delicious, and all the more so for me because I had learned a good chunk of these skills myself from canvassing for the organization I was now working against. If Amnesty believes that grassroots pressure tactics and lobbying maneuvers can effect changes in government policy, surely we would be able to force a film-showing of a human rights film at a film festival on human rights—a festival that had already scheduled the film and had no replacement.

Grassroots work of the kind that Amnesty speaks in favor of is part of the ongoing form of organizing that is taking place in Venezuela. There are no major changes that take place in the Bolivarian process without first becoming the heart and soul of the people who support and are building the revolution. Now that the USSR has disappeared and any military approach to resistance to the Empire is at least temporarily shrouded in cynicism, the Movement for a Fifth Republic has a new ideology that is not really understood very well outside of Venezuela. Bolivarism, an ideology of a united Latin America, independent of imperial foreign powers and with social justice at its root, is not in the slightest at odds with the emerging emphasis on self-determination. Quite the contrary. In North America, one of the concepts being wrestled with is a resolution of the question of indigenous sovereignty, but Venezuela has renamed and rededicated what traditionally had been “Columbus Day” as “Indigenous Resistance Day.” Clearly we in the Northern section of the movement have a lot to learn. No moves are made in Venezuela without first making certain that the people are fully behind (or in fact ahead of) the changes. This dedication to participation makes many “old school” leftists impatient at the pace of the revolution, yet the speed is still terrifying and far too fast for those who would hold Venezuela in perpetual slavery. All of this emphasis on democracy confounds even some of the most democratically minded would-be revolutionaries. But in this commitment lies the trump card to all opposition to the Bolivarian project.

Handing out flyers, getting people to an alternate screening and doing a petition drive against AI censorship at a function loaded with AI supporters and members was extremely eye-opening. I had yet to realize how people—especially those who already knew the film—felt about Amnesty’s claims that the film “wasn’t about human rights,” was going to “cause violence in Venezuela” or was “too political.” It was and remains extremely instructive that the individuals who had seen the documentary were the ones who took the least amount of convincing about the importance and human rights nature of the film. Derrick O’Keefe2 was, along with myself, told that the films were not being shown on orders from Ottawa. Strangely enough, in the days right before the film screened, Don Wright (the director of the film festival, and the regional coordinator for AI British Columbia/Yukon) stated on Democracy Now! of Pacifica Radio: “I think I needed to clarify that the decision to include the film and then to not include the film was very much a local decision….”3 Yet he stated to myself and O’Keefe that he wouldn’t reinstate the film “… because I don’t want to lose my job” and that Amnesty’s Canadian Head Office had ordered the film “pulled.” The first night Wright spoke of some concerns about the film, and had also stated on Pacifica two days prior that “This one [film] clearly was far more polarized and presented a particular perspective that moved well beyond what we normally look for in a film for our festival,”4 but eventually settled on blaming Amnesty Canada and Amnesty International in general.

This was a real demonstration of how far one has to go to defend a lie, whereas the truth is easy to remember and stick to, if one can defend it. The final “official” reason that Amnesty International has settled upon is that the film was pulled not for content issues, but because the Venezuelan rightists who support or participated in the coup (and recent continuing efforts to overthrow the constitutional government) had threatened AI Venezuela with “some degree of threat to their physical safety.5 This story, one of AI silenced on human rights concerns after threats from human rights violators, seems perhaps even more far-fetched when one considers the flip-flopping all over the place for AI—and who they have stood up to in the past. If this were really the case, then AI would be utterly doomed. How long will it take for “thugs” from China or the Sudan to corner some AI supporters and help change their politics? Perhaps “threats” against Amnesty International to stop supporting human rights in states on the official enemies list of the Empire is like pushing an open door. In any of these “explanations,” there is never an excuse that befits a truly independent and impartial organization. It demonstrated, once again, where AI will line up when a “third position” that is “above politics” is impossible. It fits a clear pattern, one that people can no longer in good conscience ignore.

Finally, it also clearly demonstrated the need for much greater solidarity work among people across North America with the Bolivarian Revolution. The more people learned about the democratic processes going on in Caracas, the less they looked comfortable with Amnesty’s multiple varied descriptions of why they would censor this film. It also made clear how we here have not done enough to expose our neighbors to what is happening on the North coast of the Southern half of the Americas.

IV

I called a few comrades and friends who I knew were already convinced of the need to defend the film for many reasons. We set up several call-outs and put together a petition for AI patrons to sign against the censorship of the festival. People from the local Venezuela and Cuba solidarity committees showed up, having already booked space to show the film at the end of the month. Others who had been doing human rights work across Latin America came sporadically to defend the film. We all just wanted to get a chance to talk to people going into the film about these very issues and the contradictions they involved. My favorite quote is Bertolt Brecht’s “in the contradiction lies the hope.”

Perhaps without surprise, it became clear early on that support for us from the lineups would correspond well with the movie being shown. Those who were there to see films about what happened under Pinochet or in Peru’s Yanacocha gold mine would offer larger support than people there for the case surrounding Tibet. After all, hadn’t the Dalai Lama stated his support for both the “War on Terror” and the use of violence as a means to “win a greater peace”?6

Members of the local radio station Co-Op Radio also held Amnesty to the fire over this, and they were perfectly suited to exposing the contradiction. Co-Op Radio has historically been one of the sponsors of the Amnesty Human Rights Film Festival, and like those of us working out front of the theater, they were not interested in calling for a boycott of the festival by those who would be in the audience. However, on the Saturday morning “Red Eye” program, Mordecai Briemberg did get a chance to speak on the matter. He read aloud from Don Wright’s form email reply to some of the many emails Wright had received, in particular the quote: “When we [AI] became aware of concerns over the film I withdrew it on the basis that the partisan, political debate that the film was attracting deflected attention from the human rights concerns we wanted to highlight.”

Along with the previous issue around Iraq, Palestine was counterposed as well. It seems that AI has two different concepts of political prisoner: one, those who are held by the Empire or its powerful allies (such as Canada, England or Israel)—the category of non-existence—and two, those who are held by states pursuing a course deemed deviant to the Empire. These names become household ones to AI members who are receiving the monthly newsletter. Cleverly avoiding the idea that America holds people as political prisoners, AI has spoken of the U.S. as having violated the fair trial requirements of Mumia Abu Jamal, Leonard Peltier and others—the same reason they oppose the holding of 600-plus in Guantánamo¾because of civil liberties objections. By definition, then, they are not political prisoners. When Palestine is discussed, Israel is not holding political prisoners. Yet people are detained indefinitely by the IDF, in the thousands, based on most often no charges but rather hunches—“hunches” often based simply on age and being Palestinian.

These and other “not political” issues come with no end-date in sight assigned to those held. Amnesty, as was mentioned in a statement from CanPalNet,7 has still not referred to the case of Mordechai Vanunu as political, either. All he did was risk his life exposing Israel’s secret nuclear weapons program, and he served 11.5 years solitary confinement as a result. Amnesty believes that Vanunu’s taking a stand against nuclear armament is a “security” matter within Israel.

After on-air discussion around some of the issues here, Co-Op Radio had already been granted a table inside the lobby of the theater as one of the biggest contributors to the festival. There discussion was able to start with people attending the remaining films. During this time, Amnesty continued on with the dancing around previous reasons for the censorship of the film.

Some other friends of the film (who had just returned from doing human rights observation work in Mexico8 ) had a wonderful idea as well: They brought a TV, VCR and a generator to the film festival and showed the damn movie outside! Then you had the spectacle of the movie that you were under orders from the Amnesty hierarchy not to watch, being shown to people out front. The optics alone were to be treasured: people walking in to see this film and getting a chance to stand outside, in the near freezing cold, huddled around a small TV screen to watch it. As always with this movie, nearly everyone was riveted. Then the audience started to ask questions about Venezuela. And the guerrilla theater was on. We continued on with the petition drive, and at one point as many as could possibly see the screen were stopped, staring at the images. People standing outside a movie theater in the cold watching a documentary pulled for political reasons usually see the problem rather clearly. Plus, I got to see the film two more times, never a difficult situation.

We also put the movie on—at the same time that it was supposed to be on at the festival—across the city at the Dogwood Centre, which was provided free of charge.9 All but about 3 of the approximately 50 seats filled. I personally believe that the film garnered a larger screening than it would have, had it been kept quiet and remained only the last film in a festival of many. At any rate, it was decided that the best way to handle charging for the movie was to make it purely donation-based, and donations only to be made after the showing—based on how important you feel the documentary is. The money raised will be spent on getting the film seen by as many people as possible.

One of the best feelings to arise out of this small action is the satisfaction it gives when people who are clearly longtime Amnesty International supporters stop to shake our hands and thank us for getting them a chance to see the film. It is no surprise to say of the audience that the biggest donations came from AI people, who are frankly quite disturbed and rethinking what it means to be with Amnesty International now. Having these people leave with a better understanding of Venezuela and also fumbling through what that actually means is a great seed to plant. It is an opportunity for very important work to be done.  If people wanted their own copies (made at cost) we were going to produce these tapes as soon as possible.10 And if Venezuela can defend themselves from these coup plotters, then we all advance human rights, democracy and defense of the Bolivarian constitution. And that is in everyone’s interests—except the very coup plotters shown in the movie, and apparently, Amnesty International as well.

V

The questions raised by this case go to the heart of how we see ourselves—when we see ourselves in global terms, that is—and what it is that we indeed stand for. I have the extremely unfortunate footnote to add of an email landing in my inbox during the days of writing this article. Amnesty International USA director William Schulz decided to spell it out, in a brief article to Salon.com: “If democratic elections would bring a radical Islamist government to power in Pakistan that might distribute nuclear weapons to terrorists, should we still call for democracy there over military rule?”11

Answer: Not if we align ourselves with the belief that democracy has an escape clause. But Schulz’s definition of democracy clearly no longer encompasses people being a sovereign body and carrying self-determination into all spheres. Amnesty has an inability to recognize that “terror,” if it means anything, covers people like Posada Carriles, who openly admits on the pages of major American media to plotting the blowing up of civilian hotels in Cuba,12 killing tourists. “Defending democracy” appears then, to Schulz, to be more along the lines of maintaining governments that are friendly to the Empire and abandoning those who are not—whether it be his hypothetical Pakistan situation come true, or the already existing hypocrisy with the cases of Cuba and Venezuela (to mention only two). However, I would retort that what the global social justice movement has begun to understand is something quite different indeed. That is, that empire—understood as imperialism and inherent to the functioning of this society as super-exploiter—is as counter a concept to self-determination and full human rights as could ever be contemplated. What Schulz is proposing is that we take on the idea that the Third World peoples struggling for human rights need to behave themselves before they are granted these rights inherent in human beings. And that is the language of George W. Bush and his oil administration. It is also the language of Rudyard Kipling. In this denial of democracy you speak of, is it for us then to “bear the burden,” Mr Schulz?

In the context of what is happening in Venezuela, and with the cancellation of the documentary about what has already happened in Venezuela, apparently the question posed by Schulz above has already been used to rationalize abandoning human rights victims in the name of big power diplomacy and against their own mandate (including Amnesty’s often well-meaning general membership).

Venezuela has already, since the ascension of the Bolivarian revolution to power, stood side by side with struggling people throughout the world. One of the most beautiful scenes of the film was when Chávez held up pictures of murdered children in Afghanistan during the first phase of the “War on Terror.” He asked those who wanted to fight terror—in fact, demanded—that we stand up and be rational and not commit terror fighting terror. Venezuela has denounced the FTAA, and has made itself a friend of the Cuban revolution—out of a love not for socialism, but for social justice and revolutionary independence. For the same reason Chávez and his government are the only government in the Western Hemisphere other than Cuba that has utterly rejected the FTAA. Chávez appears to believe in the most important self-determination battles for human rights of all: freedom from great power coercion, from illiteracy, poverty, and military rule. Human rights are social justice, and social justice is the most fundamental human right. This people has shown that they will speak for the downtrodden in every barrio, in every corner of the world, against the powerful and greedy and for the hungry, illiterate and devalued. Now we must stand up for Venezuela.

Most of the signers of the online petition13 initiated to defend the integrity of the film are from this revolutionary country. One woman wrote a comment that “We in Venezuela count on this film to tell the world the truth of what is happening here…!” Another person said simply “We need your support.”14 So there you have it, a brilliant documentary, an act against censorship by a supposed human rights organization—and a chance to support Venezuela in the largest battle they have to fight, that is, the one on the world’s stage. Please, whatever way you do it, make sure that you help more people see this extraordinary film.

Postscript

Amnesty’s official final story ended up in the UK Guardian, November 22, 2003.15 It would appear that this particular version isn’t entirely accepted from even within Amnesty International in Canada. A few weeks later I received the following in an email from Montreal:

i just wanted to let you know as an executive member of amnesty international concordia, that we are showing “the revolution will not be televised” next semester, as has been our plan since september. the film will fit in with our “latin american” theme. it is most unfortunate that other amnesty groups have chosen to not show such a breathtaking, important, and underexposed film.16

Indeed, it is unfortunate to the highest order, especially since continuing right-wing activity in Venezuela has rendered absurd one of the other claims that AI had apparently made in defense of the censorship: that this wasn’t of concern now because Chávez had been returned to power. Well, never mind that most of the film festival highlighted human rights issues that were now “over” as well (consider only the Khmer Rouge films to make the point). The reality is that the struggle in Venezuela has only just begun, as the privileged sectors are determined to undermine the present government, legally or not.

Condoleezza Rice, U.S. National Security Adviser, recently chastised Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution to hold a referendum on the rule of the president, regardless of whether the returns on the signature drive (to force a recall according to constitutional provisions) meet the required number after being checked against voter rolls. Rice also blasted the relationship between Chávez and Castro, a favorite polemical target of the golpistas and the forces in the U.S. that oppose Bolivarism. These comments were made in an increasingly polarized atmosphere, with Venezuelan ex-generals openly calling for a dictatorship and U.S. military intervention to deal with Chávez and stop the revolution.17 This, perhaps coincidentally or perhaps not, was immediately followed by Chávez suggesting a switch of the foreign reserves in the Central Bank to Euros—a move that would not exactly be welcome in the United States. All of this is occurring as the Cuban help with medical and education programs continues unabated and all indicators of health and literacy are greatly improving for the poor majority. And on January 13, it was reported that laws had been passed decriminalizing possession of all common recreational drugs (while cracking down on large traffickers), and legalizing both abortion and euthanasia.18

The lines are becoming clearer and clearer, and the attempt to destroy this process is not “over,” it is not less threatening, but in fact only just getting underway. However, to quote Chávez, the people are peaceful but not disarmed. I might add that they are apparently willing to defy any coup—so neither is the Bolivarian revolution “over” by a long shot. We might be able to say that we won a small victory in Vancouver, but will AI be co-opted as the war—now cheer-led from Washington—escalates and interference becomes more overt? Or will Amnesty International stick their collective heads in the sand, hold their breath, and quietly hope that this all just goes away?

More importantly, what are we to do to make certain that we don’t leave Venezuela alone to struggle for a better future? As the anti-war movement continues to recover confidence after the Bush Junta declared “victory” in Iraq, we also need to make certain that we see the world with a new clarity and recognize both who our allies are and who imperialism wishes to take out. We must not let Venezuela or any of “America’s backyard” drift from our sights: The “War on Terror” is about re-defining the American domination of the planet, in every sphere. And the most concerted rebellions are coming from due South.

Revolutions emancipate the impoverished and forgotten, democratize the polity and earn the enmity of the Empire, from Bolivia’s water struggles through to Venezuela’s quest to ultimately recapture the wealth of their own oil. Let us welcome and share pride in the process underway in Venezuela—and do so as our greatest gift to human rights, democracy and real independence. That is, a gift to the human right of a better future.

2. O’Keefe was among those who did the most to make the event happen; he managed to secure support for the reinstatement of the film from the biggest local anti-war coalition, named “Stopwar.ca.”

3. Don Wright, interviewed on Pacifica Radio, Democracy Now! (New York) http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=03/11/06/1558221&mode=thread&tid=25

4. Wright, ibid.

5. John Tackaberry of AI Canada as quoted in the UK Guardian:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1090702,00.html.

8. Vital were Maryann Abbs and Eric Doherty of Latin American Connexions (a local solidarity paper) who were among those who brought the TV and VCR to the theater and also provided the copy that was later screened at the Dogwood Centre. There are many others whose names have not been listed who are not forgotten.

9. Thank you to the Communist Party of Canada: http://www.communist-party.ca.

10. As of January 21, 2004 over 35 copies of the film have been distributed to three continents.

15. See citation #5.

16. Ezra Winton, Co-director, überCulture Collective in email correspondence to me, December 8, 2003.

This entry was posted in 36, Volume 18, No. 2. Bookmark the permalink.