A slightly edited version of this interview ran in the Spring Issue '09 of International Documentary Magazine. (Permission to post granted by Editor Tom White)
By Kathleen Fairweather and Daryl Fairweather
Director Philippe Diaz's "The End of Poverty?" reveals the startling fact that more than one billion people in the world survive on less then one dollar a day while 2.7 billion exist on less than 2 dollars per day. Even grimmer, every 3.6 seconds another person dies of starvation – the majority being children less than five years old. Diaz provides an historical context beginning with the conquistadors in 1492, who violently plundered gold and other natural resources - first from the Incas and the Mayans, then South America, Asia and Africa.
Fast forward to today and the exploitation and outright thievery has led to our current economic system being financed by the poor through land and natural resource theft, unfair debt repayment, and unjust taxes on labor and consumption. This coupled with the IMF and World Bank’s policies encourage the status quo of continued subsistence economic dependence and widespread poverty throughout the Southern continents.
Diaz delves deeply into this complex and overwhelming crisis with interviews from many prominent economists such as Nobel Prize in Economics winners Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz. Diaz also portrays the struggles of the people most affected by years of colonialism and public disenfranchisement. The film also gives first person perspectives from the citizens of these countries who struggle every day to survive.
ID writers Kathleen Fairweather and Daryl Rose Fairweather caught up with Director Phillippe Diaz for an in-depth look this important and timely film.
ID: In the film, you give an historical view of how the exploitation of colonialism still affects countries today. What similarities and differences did you notice in the inequality problems of Latin America and Africa? Were there any fundamental differences between former Spanish colonies, and former British colonies?
DIAZ: Overall the situation is similar for African and South American countries. The countries rich in resources are the subject of permanent "resource wars" as Professor Okoth Ogendo from Nairobi in the film called them. Look at the so-called civil war in Congo which had already killed millions of people. It's all about the resources the North needs. On the other hand the countries poor in resources are left out of the development process all together. There are of course many differences per country but the only notable one between these two continents is the level of corruption. The way the north has been able to appropriate resources has been in the recent decades more by way of geopolitical tools and by violent means in South America and more with corruption in Africa.