Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Obscene Fantasies Come True

On an impossibly dark night, I ventured forth to the Mills Godwin Building to see the new James Bond flick, "Quantum of Solace."

Normally, this would never strike my fancy, but a friend of mine from Peru (who couldn't come, for her own reasons as well as for already seeing this movie) recommended it, for nothing else than it takes place partly in Bolivia, not the typical site for Hollywood productions.

The story revolves around a new kind of Bond villain, a one Dominic Greene - to our eyes a leading environmentalist and philanthropist whose organization buys large tracts of land throughout the world for ecological purposes. But what is he really hiding. I was skeptical at this point, as oil is one thing...but the resource that Greene is trying to steal is water. Of course, this is what my friend Natalia would want me to see.

In the early 2000s, water and other resources were privatized by the Bolivian government, which led to massive unrest and resistance. The key to this uprising was water - a resource that still is in contention to this day as the winners (the people) in the water war continue to struggle with ways to cheaply give this resource to the whole population.

Natalia later confessed to me that it was fun to see the obscene, she said, fantasies come true on stage. There is a tyrannical ex-president allying against the people, a do-nothing US ambassador who openly accepts a planned coup with nonchalance. "Despite these conspiratorial views, ambassadors continue to be expelled by presidents who fear coup attempts and ex-presidents have endemically cavorted with the US. This movie brings it all back home in a sense."

In a review of the movie online by Jeff Conant, he says:
One wonders if Dominic Greene – had he not died drinking motor oil to quench his thirst in the Bolivian desert – might give the keynote speech at the upcoming World Water Forum in Istanbul. After all, the World Water Council that puts on the forum is presided over by Loïc Fauchon, a former executive at one of the French subsidiaries of Suez, the world’s largest private water corporation.
While reality, as Natalia feels obliged to tell readers of this piece, does not fall within James Bond's capacities - there are people who fight for water and against corporate profiteering just like 007. I was surprised that a movie could be action packed, but for someone who wants to know more about Bolivia, it provides a reality of an important moment not just for its country, but an example of resistance for the whole world.

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