This is the basic question addressed by The End of Poverty, an incendiary expose’ directed by Philippe Diaz. In essence, this damning documentary is a history lesson about the ugly underbelly of Western Civilization from 1492 up to the present.
For not long after Columbus “discovered” America, European countries began descending on the so-called New World, using both the bullet and the Bible to bend assorted indigenous peoples to their will. The Dutch focused primarily on Asia while the English assured themselves that the sun would never set on the ever-expanding British Empire. Even the Pope got into the act, awarding Africa to Portugal and South America to Spain by papal decree.
The basic thesis of the luminaries lending their insights to this thought-provoking project is that for 500+ years, white people have extracted the resources and oppressed the natives living in lands located in the planet’s Southern hemisphere. And that unfair economic relationship never changed substantially at the end of the era of colonization, since in most countries a handful of families continued to own the bulk of the business interests and the majority of productive real estate.
Former CIA consultant Chalmers Johnson indicts that Agency for serving as the private army of a succession of American presidents. He specifically alleges that the CIA was behind the assassination of a long list of populist leaders, like Lumumba in the Congo, Arbenz in Guatemala, Roldos in Ecuador, Torrijos in Panama, Qasim in Iraq and Mossadek in Iran. Similarly, John Perkins, author of “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man,” owns up to his role in the overthrow of numerous Third World rulers in order to replace them with corrupt puppets handpicked by the U.S.
The situation has degenerated to the point where over a billion people around the world are currently trying to survive on less than a dollar a day, and their prospects are only getting worse, given that the ownership of natural resources has become increasingly concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. In concluding, the picture suggests that this imbalance can only be corrected if the poor rise up and insist on reforms like the nationalization of land, mineral and water rights, and the taxation of the $11.5 trillion hidden by the rich in offshore accounts.
Solutions seemingly incompatible with capitalism, an economic system dependent on escalating expansionism and the incessant exploitation of cheap labor. So, why does poverty persist in the midst of unparalleled wealth? In a word, greed!
Excellent (4 stars)
In English, Spanish, Portuguese and French with subtitles.
Running time: 106 minutes
Studio: Cinema Libre Studio
To see a trailer for The End of Poverty, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBkiPFmTHMM
Film Review by Kam Williams