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Resistencia: the film

Check out the trailer for “Resistencia”, Jesse Freeston’s documentary-in-progress, and visit the film’s website.

A bit of background to the documentary, courtesy of Freeston:

The film follows 3,000 landless farming families as they occupy the palm oil plantations of Miguel Facussé, the richest man in Honduras. Over their two-year-long occupation, they’ve been threatened, jailed, beaten, had their homes burnt down, and more than forty farmers have been killed by Facussé’s guards, the police, and the military, all of which work together to try and push them off the land. Despite this constant violence, the families are still there and they’re not going anywhere.

The occupation began after the 2009 military coup d’etat—organized by Facussé and other oligarchs—that overthrew the only president that ever supported the farmers. Abandoned by the electoral process, the farmers took over the land and are now implementing their own democracy inside the occupied plantations.


In Honduras, a Mess Made in the U.S.

My friend, the indefatigable Dana Frank, wrote the following Op-Ed for the New York Times:

IT’S time to acknowledge the foreign policy disaster that American support for the Porfirio Lobo administration in Honduras has become. Ever since the June 28, 2009, coup that deposed Honduras’s democratically elected president, José Manuel Zelaya, the country has been descending deeper into a human rights and security abyss. That abyss is in good part the State Department’s making.

The headlines have been full of horror stories about Honduras. According to the United Nations, it now has the world’s highest murder rate, and San Pedro Sula, its second city, is more dangerous than Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, a center for drug cartel violence.


Doug Henwood interview: The Imperial Messenger

I was recently interviewed about my new anti-Thomas Friedman book by the great Doug Henwood for his program “Behind the News”. The show aired this morning on Berkeley’s KPFA 94.1.

The first guest was Michael Dorsey, professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth, who was speaking from the annual climate summit currently underway in Durban, South Africa.

My part begins at minute 27.10 with a wonderfully relevant introductory song.

Henwood has also included the recording of Friedman’s infamous “Suck. On. This” performance on Charlie Rose on behalf of the Iraq war effort. Remarks Henwood in response: “It’s like junior high school, only with automatic weapons and high explosives”.

Listen to the interview at the Left Business Observer or click below:

Photographs of Guatemala

In an effort to think about things other than Thomas Friedman I have been reviewing photographs of my hitchhiking travels in Latin America with Amelia Opalinska.

I’ve decided to post a few of Amelia’s photos of Guatemala, taken in 2006. The structure that appears to be a Mayan ruin covered in concrete is located near the west Guatemalan town of Huehuetenango, birthplace of José Efraín Ríos Montt, who with U.S. backing presided over the systematic killing of Mayan peasants and other undesirable sectors of society in the early 1980s.


Cinematic therapy for Israeli soldiers

A scene from "Lebanon"

I’ve just written an article for The Electronic Intifada, comparing the Palestinian film Salt of This Sea—in which the sea represents Palestinian dispossession—with the Israeli film Lebanon, in which Lebanon is represented by the interior of an invading Israeli tank.

Samuel Maoz, the director of Lebanon, was a tank gunner in the 1982 Israeli war on that country. The Observer conducted a lengthy interview with him in May of this year. The following is an excerpt from my article for EI:

According to the The Observer: ‘For Maoz, making his film turned out to be, cliched though this sounds, healing. As he wrote the script, he realized he was at last able to put some distance between himself and his past. … Physically, too, something changed. “Two days into the shoot, I developed an infection in my leg. It was so painful I could hardly walk. The doctor gave me antibiotics and I went to bed for a day. When I woke up, the pain was gone.” He looked down at his foot and, there beside it on the mattress, were five small pieces of shrapnel, rejected by his body after nearly three decades, evidence, he believes, of “the connection between body and soul.”’


Ecuadorian Quechua Photographs by Amelia Opalinska

Hitchhiking in the Amazonian region of eastern Ecuador in April of last year, photographer Amelia Opalinska and I were faced with the dilemma of how to visit remote indigenous villages and other uncommon vehicular destinations.

Transportation to the Huaorani village of Tigüino was not an issue given the heavy presence of oil companies and related traffic. In order to reach certain Quechua villages, meanwhile, we took advantage of the national election campaigns currently underway and appealed to the local coordinators of the indigenous-oriented Pachakutik party (now part of the controversy over the recent maybe-or-maybe-not-coup-attempt against President Rafael Correa), who permitted us to join their campaign expeditions. We selected this party not out of an affinity for any particular aspect of its political platform but rather out of an affinity for its rainbow-themed posters.

Following is a series of Opalinska’s photographs of various Quechua communities. Click here to view a previous series on the Huaorani and here for a longer article on our electoral experience in Ecuador.


Postwar Photographs of Lebanon by Amelia Opalinska, Round II

A few months ago I posted a series of photographs of Lebanon taken in 2006 by my traveling companion Amelia Opalinska, in the aftermath of the July War perpetrated by Israel. I am now posting a second round in honor of the fourth anniversary of the conflict, which is referred to by the Israelis as the Second Lebanon War–the first being the 1982 invasion of Lebanon that killed approximately 17,500 people, mainly civilians. Other destructive Israeli incursions into the country, such as those in 1978, 1993, and 1996, have been exempted from the war count.

As for the second Qana massacre, which refers to the July 30, 2006 obliteration by Israeli air raids of 28 civilians in the same south Lebanese town where 106 refugees sheltered in a U.N. compound were obliterated during the 1996 conflict, potential candidates for the official Israeli title for the incident might include “the Second Qana Mistake” or “the Second Israeli Weeping Session for Qana”. The latter suggestion is inspired by Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz’ legal analysis of Israeli reactions to being forced by Hezbollah to kill Lebanese children.

Ten of Opalinska’s photographs appear below. More to follow next week.