19 October 2008 at 13:30 by Lindsay
Ever wondered about the origins of poverty today? How did the North get so financially rich in comparison to the South? And why does this huge divide continue to present day? The film for you to watch is the official selection for critics week at the Cannes film festival this year, ‘The End of Poverty? Think again.’
On Friday 17 October, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, Amnesty International Human Rights Action Centre hosted the UK film premiere of ‘The End of Poverty? Think again‘ as part of the Global Campaign against Poverty. This is one of many events this weekend to Stand Up and Take Action Against Poverty. (It’s not too late to get involved – see below for more details on how to take action).
What this film highlighted to me is that while proposed figures to end global poverty seem immense they are relatively small in comparison to how governments are bailing out international banks at the moment. It really is possible to make a change but radical steps need to be taken to ensure it is a call for justice not charity.
‘The End of Poverty? Think again‘ is a complex investigation into the causes of poverty today, featuring Nobel Prize Amartya Sen, Joseph Stiglitz, author/activist Susan George, Eric Toussaint, Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera, and John Christensen. While the film tackles some complicated concepts it also clearly highlights truly shocking realities of poverty. Tracing worldwide debt from the beginning of globalisation in 1492, it discusses various historic events over the past 500 years that have left a colonial legacy that traps the South in crippling debt.
- Atleast 24,000 people die a day of hunger and poverty
- 60 to 80 million people still live in slave like conditions
- A third of the world’s population does not have access to clean water
- 25% of the world’s population consumes 85% of its wealth
As Susan George asserted, it is in fact the South financing the North, as the North profits from the South’s resources and demands billions of dollars in debt repayments every year.
After the film
There was a short panel discussion after the film including Philippe Diaz, the film’s director and writer, Nick Dearden, Director of Jubilee Debt Campaign, John Christensen, Founder of The Tax Justice Network and Naomi McAuliffe, Campaign Project Manager at Amnesty International UK, for Amnesty’s forthcoming Poverty and Human Rights Campaign.
A student in the audience said to Diaz that they feel the one-sided presentation of the issues will mean heads of transnational corporations exploiting poorer countries will not take notice. Diaz responded that as a filmmaker he does not believe that you have to show two sides. The current division of power lies in the hands of these corporations so his aim is to denounce these companies. The violence of poverty in the South is a legacy of colonisation that the North created. Diaz and the experts in the film believe that the solution will not come from the top but from the bottom. As the example of the successful Cochabamba protests of 2000 illustrate, also known as “The Cochabamba Water Wars” in Bolivia. Who better to stand up to the World Bank than thousands of regantes (peasant irrigators).
Therefore, if you’re interested in finding out more about global debt – watch this film!
Last year, Stand Up and Take Action Against Poverty set a Guinness World Record, with nearly 44 million people from 127 countries standing up in protest. This weekend the goal is to top that number, mobilizing 1% of the world’s population, or 67 million people. Find out how to get involved today.