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When Two Worlds Collide (El Choque de Dos Mundos)

Who are the real savages? Peruvian doc exposes government and police violence against indigenous people, and reveals a cynical and perverse notion of "savagery" - the film is out in cinemas now

The Scottish philosopher Adam Smith had distinguished views on politics and was severely criticised by proclaiming a moral theory in which savage peoples are ruled by passions, and civilised peoples by the mind. He was right when he said that: “To promote the little interest of one little order of men in one country, it hurts the interest of all other orders of men in that country, and of all men in all other countries”. The story behind the documentary When Two Worlds Collide is the testament of this.

The doc exposes the social injustice and the environmental issues caused by the Promotion Agreement between Peruvian former president Alan García and George W. Bush administration in 2009. By inviting American entrepreneurs to explore petrol in Peru, García disregarded the territories of native indigenous peoples. Pregnant indigenous women were having health problems due to water contamination and the rainforest was in critical danger. So indigenous leader Alberto Pizango started to protest against the president’s destructive actions.

Pizango claimed that there was no native representation in Peruvian Congress and that his people weren’t consulted for the agreement. In an action in 2009 Pizango and many indigenous people blocked a highway, so that there was no food for people in the cities. Though García considers indigenous people as “savages that don’t understand development”, one of his cabinet ministers agreed to meet with a committee of indigenous people. Politicians and native people continued to disagree.

Pizango reiterated that his people “wanted development but didn’t want to risk their lives”. Respect nature and take care of the land is a principle for native communities. As they didn’t sell their territories to (petrol) Barrett Company, a conflict erupted. In the name of order, García sent police forces to Petrol Peru Oil Station. Eighty-two indigenous people were shot and nine died; on the other side, plus 11 policemen were killed. Policemen searched for weapons even inside the ambulances.

The film challenges audiences to rethink preconceptions of savagery. While dead policemen were considered heroes, dead “savage” indigenous men were considered criminals. Pizango fled to Nicaragua and became a political refugee. Most of the Peruvian press was by García’s side. One TV anchor told Pizarro he was “risking the whole country and was not open to dialogue”.

Vile rulers of mankind can open an incurable wound in an entire nation. Back in Peru, Pizango faced a trial. He was accused of inciting killings. No members of government, or policemen ever faced prosecution for the people killed and wounded..

When Two Worlds Collide has very strong images of the conflicts. It is a subversive piece of cinematography, recognised with awards in Sundance Film Festival and Hot Docs Toronto International Film Festival. The film is out in cinemas worldwide right now.

Don’t forget to view the film trailer below:


By Maysa Monção - 09-09-2016

Maysa Monção is a Brazilian writer, teacher, translator, editor and art performer who currently lives in London. She has a Masters Degree in Film Studies from Tor Vergata University in Rome, Italy, ...

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