SOCIAL MOVEMENTS FEATURED
Poverty is a huge topic. With a limited travel budget we had to narrow our focus. We chose five countries with two criteria: first, countries with governments that were open to acknowledging and talking about the poverty challenges they faced; and secondly, countries that represented a specific issue in the broader scheme, such as land rights in Kenya. Unfortunately, we weren't able to make it to Asia although we spoke with activists from Asia while we were filming at The World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya.
The making of the film brought us to four continents: South America (Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia), Africa (Kenya and Tanzania), Europe and North America. In addition to the experts, these are the people and social movements fighting against poverty who were featured in the film (organized by the order in which we visited their countries).
Despite its great wealth as the world's fifth-largest oil producer, when President Chavez began his first term in office in 1999, Venezuela was a country in which nearly half of all households lived in poverty. To address this injustice, the state-owned oil company increased spending on social programs from 40 million to 13.3 billion dollars annually as of 2006. Now, all Venezuelans are guaranteed access to education, job training, housing, and health care. Between 1998 and 2007, the household poverty rate dropped by 31%.
We went to Venezuela to witness the revolution and to hear first-hand how the poor peoples' lives were being transformed. We filmed during the December 2006 Presidential elections and spoke to barrio-dwellers about:
We also spoke with the farmers in Vargas region about land reform & farming.
We spoke with leaders of key social programs such as:
Nora Castenada, BANMUJER (Woman's Bank)
From Venezuela, we traveled to Brazil. The 9th largest economy in the world, a country with abundant natural resources, modern industries, internationally recognized culture and the widest gap between rich and poor: the richest 10% of Brazilians receive 50% of the nation's income, while the poorest 10% receive less than 1%.
Agrarian Reform and Land Issues:
MST: Moviememto Sem Terra – Brazil's Landless Workers Movement
– Brazil's National Institute of Colonization and Land Reform
More about Latifundia's
People living in favelas
in Recife: Communities of Coelhos and Brasilia Teimosa
Modern Industry: Sugar Cane Cutters & Slavery:
, Social Network of Justice and Human Rights - sugar cane cutters and slavery
President Lula Da Silva's anti-poverty initiative, FOME ZERO
History of Gold Mines: Ouro Preto and Minas De Passegem
When union organizer Evo Morales was elected President of Bolivia in 2005, it was the first time in the country's history that the indigenous people, who make up roughly 60% of the population, had one of their own as President. He moved quickly away from the neoliberal policies of his predecessors to try to help his community, the vast majority of whom live below the poverty line. (Joseph Stiglitz wrote for TIME Magazine)
Privatization and the Water & Gas Warriors:
In 1999, the people of Cochambamba, Bolivia took on the multi-national corporation, Bechtel, and won.
Bolivia's natural gas reserves and the prospect for their future sale mobilized the citizens of La Paz to protest, effectively shutting down the city and leading to the resignation of then president, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada (aka "Goni").
Potosi & Bolivia's Stolen Wealth
We also spoke with leaders of ongoing social movements as well as media outlets dedicated providing the stories masked by corporate media:
Oscar Olivera & Marcela Olivera
Jim Shultz and the Democracy Center
Narco News (multi-lingual reporting from South America)
Kenya was selected because (until recently) it was considered the most "stable" of African countries. Its capital, Nairobi, is one of the most prominent cities in Africa and home to several international companies and organizations. Government and business leaders have become adept at presenting a pro-business front to the global community.
To film, we timed our travel to coincide with the World Social Forum in January 2007 and learned of the deep-seated problems lurking underneath the surface.
A former British colony, Kenya's evolution has been marked by race and land issues. After the Presidential election in December 2008, the country's unrest became evident when rioting broke out in the streets. Currently, the country is going through its worst drought in over a decade with over 4 million Kenyans at the point of starvation.
We were introduced land issues through the Kenya Land Alliance
and Action Aid Kenya
. Featured in the film are community members of:
Namuncha Maasai Community Group who are pastoralists and as such are not recognized as land-holders.
The people of Yala Swamp who have had their lands and livelihoods devastated by the American company, Dominion Group, which was allowed to build a rice farm in a wetlands area as part of a Structural Adjustment Program.
Kenya is one of the largest producers of tea, which is also their #1 export. We spoke with tea pluckers who had to sneak off the company property in order to tell the truth about their working conditions.
Through Silvano Borruso, a Georgist in Kenya, we were introduced to the people living in Kibera, the largest slum in East Africa, who are part of a community organized group known as STAWI.
Stawi - Since we met this group, friends and family of Cinema Libre Studio, have been contributing to their Orphan and Vulnerbale Children's (OVC) feeding program; started a micro-loan program and are developing a decorative pillow-making cooperative.
In Tanzania, the main issue we focused on was the exploitation of natural resources, specifically Tanzanite. The two groups that we worked with are:
, which is based in Arusha and works on social and economic justice issues.
, Tanzanite Mine Workers Development Office.