When the Mountains Tremble (1983) is an incredible documentary.
It tells the story of state repression, under the leadership of General Efraín Ríos Montt, of indigenous populations in Guatemala during the 1980s. The filmmaker is Pamela Yates (bottom right) of Skylight Pictures, an IntLawGrrls contributor.
Mountains bravely uncovers the role of the United States in facilitating, for its own trade purposes, military rule in Guatemala. Liberal capitalism and free trade promoted by the United States, the film tells us, led to the dispossession of local populations. Footage from both Guatemalan and US television is presented – including a statement of then-President Ronald Reagan, in which he calls on businesses to
'be bold and spread American enterprise throughout the hemisphere'.Beyond asserting US responsibility in providing finance and weapons to the Guatemalan military, Mountains also looks at the complicity of religious organizations in a massacre. Following repression of some priests within the Catholic Church, evangelical groups from the US began to arrive.
This powerful documentary, exploring the multifaceted factors which lead to genocide and human rights violations, currently can be viewed free online at PBS here.
In my post tomorrow, I'll review Yates' 2011 sequel to this film – another documentary, entitled Granito.
(Cross-posted at Human Rights Film Diary blog)