In an earlier post I featured the documentary Granito: How to Nail a dictator the sequel to When the Mountains Tremble, a documentary about the war on the Mayan population of Guatemala, narrated by the Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Rigoberta Menchu. Both films made by Skylight Pictures and Pamela Yates tell stories of the State repression of indigenous populations in Guatemala during the 1980s under the leadership of General Efrain Rios Montt.
When the Mountains Tremble is an incredible documentary. It bravely uncovers the role of the United States in facilitating military rule in Guatemala for its own trade purposes. Liberal capitalism and free trade promoted by the United States led to the dispossession of local populations and their exploitation. The film contains footage from both Guatemalan and US television including the statement of former President Ronald Reagan before Congress in which he calls on businesses to "be bold and spread American enterprise throughout the hemisphere". Beyond US responsibility in providing finance and weapons to the Guatemalan military, the film also looks at the complicity of religious organizations in the massacre. Following repression of some priests within the Catholic Church, evangelical groups from the US begin to take their place.
Throughout the story told by Rigoberta Menchu we witness the organization of el pueblo guatemalteco. It is the people of Guatemala who star in this film, risking their lives to tell the stories of repression and mass human rights violations. We see training exercises of the guerrillas, the activism of young men and young men who wish to protect their people and who strive for equality.
The documentary can be streamed online at PBS : http://www.pbs.org/pov/granito/when-the-mountains-tremble.php
An incredibly powerful documentary exploring the multifaceted factors which lead to genocide and human rights violations. Every bit as relevant today as the 'war on drugs' ravages countries in Central America.