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Review of “Aristide and the Endless Revolution” (2005) NR 84min

May 7th, 2008 by Maxim · 1 Comment · 4,058 Views

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This documentary directed by Nicolas Rossier examines the oft-suppressed story of the 2004 coup d’etat in Haiti. Only an hour south of Miami, the elected president of the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation, Jean Bertrand Aristide, has twice been forced from office with complicity of the international community. Features Aristide, Denny Glover, Sen. Maxine Waters, George W. Bush, Collin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, Noam Chomsky, Rep. Charles Rangel, more.

The story written by Cameron Clendaniel and Nicolas Rossier follows history of Haiti from the times of colonization, independence of the first black republic, the years of Duvalier dynasty rule and rise of Jean Bertrand Aristide from a simple pastor to presidency.

The good: This is a very professionally made and credible documentary. Stunning images and, above all, honesty. Graphic footage of violence that followed Aristide’s removal from power in 2004. I very well remember the propaganda on American television describing Aristide’s “resignation” and portraing Aristide as a nutty guy who was claiming that he was kidnapped by U.S. marines, put on a plane and flown he didn’t know where because he was not allowed to look in the plane’s window until they landed in Central African Republic – a country that U.S. has no diplomatic relationships with. It’s a fascinating and scary story of a country where power was never handed over from one ruler to another peacefully until Aristide. It tells why international community, and U.S. in particular was instrumental in bringing down Aristide and Haiti not once but twice. How Haitians slaves were exploited first by French colonizators in previous centuries, and more recently by likes of Walmarts working in sweatshops for 20 cents an hour. Shows how U.S. created a defacto embargo of Haiti, and how despite the embargo Aristide performed a miracle of managing to keep country afloat for so many years and provide peace and security to the island nation with just 3,000 police and no army. The documentary traces the money and arms flow to U.S. and CIA, which trained some of the participants of the coup d’etat. The movie illustrates that American rhetoric doesn’t always match with its actions in supporting democracy.

Plenty of C-SPAN and other TV footage used to help you remember what was on TV those days and how politicians covered up the truth about removal of Aristide from power.

At the same time movie stays objective, giving both sides equal time to prove their point. The truth is somewhere in between, if you give any credibility to “loyal Bushies”. Ironically, Aristide was restored to power after Bush-dad orchestrated the first coup d’etat to remove Aristide from power in 1991.

One of the people that were interviewed stood out – Dr. Paul Farmer who was featured on CBS’ “60 Minutes” segment on Sunday, May 4, 2008 about his clinic on Haiti that provides free services for more then a decade. He seemed very credible on “60 Minutes”, and I thought it added to his credibility in the interview for the documentary.

Nice, moving narration by Ross Douglas.

The bad: Not quite clear why Aristide dismantled the Army. There also were parallels to the U.S. deposition of elected Congo president Patrice Lumumba almost 40 years earlier, but the connection is not quite established.

The summary: a documentary to be seen by everyone. See how world powers brought down a first black democratic republic to its knees, how human rights were violated while killings of Aristide’s supporters continue.

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Tags: Biographical · DVD · Documentary · Foreign · France · Movies

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