Friday, May 25, 2018

Tambien la Lluvia (Even the Rain)

También la Lluvia (Even the rain) is a 2010 Spanish movie directed by Icíar Bollaín. It is a history and political drama production that takes place in Bolivia, which includes a dual narrative. The first one is the creation of a movie about the first religious opposition to the enslavement of indigenous people in New Spain during the colonization period. The second one recounts the struggles of poor communities to protect their right to get drinking water opposing a process of national privatization of its supply, carried by an agreement between the city´s municipality and a multinational company. The movie production crew hires locals to perform as extras in the project, while at the same time the political tensions intensify behind cameras. The movie illustrates the events of the Cochabamba water war, as it is known in Bolivia´s history, which took place from 1999 to 2000 and resolved in the expulsion of the multinational and the dissolution of the water privatization law that started the conflict.

The movie director Sebastián (Gael García Bernal) travels to Bolivia with a crew formed of Latin American and Spanish people in search for the place and people that will bring his movie the most accurate amount of realism compared to how the events really happened (but they only get what is within their low-budget). Sebastián chooses Bolivia because of its tropical landscape and the facial features of its people which are alike the Taino tribe that Colón first found in his arrival to the Caribbean. His Spanish executive producer, Costa (Luis Tosar), has arranged a casting call in the heights of a Cochabamba neighbourhood, where more than hundred people wait for even the smallest job opportunity. From this initial part, Bolivia is shown as an impoverished place and its people always act in community, which can turn violent if unheard, especially among those with Quechua ancestry. In both revolutionary stories (one led by the Indians in the movie, the other by the people in Cochabamba), the leadership is in the hands of Daniel, a member of the Cochabamba community and activist. He becomes the main character in the movie performing as Atuey, whose crucifixion starts an Indian revolt against the Catholic Crown rule. However, Daniel´s involvement in the water war complicates the project but also makes all the crew aware of the injustices committed in the region, so much that Costa (who showed very little interest at the beginning) ends up providing support to the “insurgents”.

As we can see in the movie, the Bolivian government and national media labelled the protest as an anti-modernization rebellion that had the objective to destabilize a legitimate democratic state. However, just like Sebastián’s character wants to give a voice to the other side of history, to the Indians, in the same way, Bollaín opens the floor to explain the water war favouring the protesters’ viewpoint. By doing this, the plot sympathies with a socialist ideology highly critical of globalization and neoliberalist practices such as the commodification and privatization of services and natural resources. The story advocates for an understanding of social justice through the eyes of the poor, the worker, the exploited, and thus all those social issues shape our perception of Latin American societies and their essence, at least the one portrayed here.

One of the most impactful scenes shows both narratives merging. The leader Atuey brings about a demonstration of all the oppressed Indians against the armed Spanish conquistadors (apparently more powerful, but very small in number). The crowd of natives get uncontrollable after seen his leader being executed. Right after the scene is over, a group of police officers arrive to take prisoner the revolt leader Daniel (Atuey), but all the local people that were acting in the movie successfully rise to defend him. This merging of the two stories duplicates a narrative of struggle and rebellion that let us with one conclusion: not much has changed since colonization. How is so? What about modernity? The critique of modernity is self-evident. The so-called “modernity” of the neoliberal society is just a name given to new forms of exploitation of the same groups: the indigenous and the poor workers in the Cochabamba case.

What does the portrayal of these events tell us about Latin American society? The coloniality of power relations has become a difficult problem to overcome in Latin America. At the end of the movie, Daniel says that a demonstration with force was the only way to make a meaningful change. That is what is being somehow justified with a socialist perspective. When people go to the streets to protest there is an actual reason, a real discomfort, it is not only a selfish act, especially when those people are influenced by a long history of struggle that comes from colonization. Revolutionary rebellions are what it takes in Latin America to stop the socially careless, and economic driven forces of global neoliberalism.

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