Monday, March 17, 2008

Film review -- Tambogrande: Mangos, Murder, Mining

This is a film review I've written for the documentary Tambogrande: Mangos, Murder, Mining, and submitted for publication in Amnesty's BHR newsletter.

Tambogrande: Mangos, Murder, Mining.
Running time: 85 minutes.

What happens when Manhattan Minerals, a Canadian mining company, proposes a mining development right underneath Tambogrande? As we see in the multiple-award-winning documentary Tambogrande: Mangos, Murder, Mining, its citizens take a stand to protect their livelihood.

Filmmakers Ernesto Cabellos and Stephanie Boyd spent five years making this film, and watched as a captivating script developed before their eyes. Despite promises of economic development and jobs from the mining company, the people of Tambogrande know that a gold mine underneath the town would poison their environment, make their land uninhabitable, and destroy the mango farms upon which their livelihood depends. Led by the inspiring Godogredo GarcĂ­a Baca, they organize opposition to the plan. Godofredo is murdered under very suspicious circumstances. Over time, we see how the protest movement evolves from one of sometimes violent confrontations with police towards displays of non-violent resistance later on. In a referendum, they vote 98% against the development, and Manhattan Mineral’s shares drop sharply. This eventually culminates in victory and preservation for the people of Tambogrande.

By the conclusion of Tambogrande, I was truly inspired. This film is worth watching as an uncommon example of grassroots citizen action triumphing in the battle to defend their land and livelihood from powerful corporate interests. The lesson for the Canadian activist is to realize that though our activism is important, it is the courageous, successful activism of indigenous peoples on the front lines that really must be honoured.

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