"Rulers of the New World" by journalist and film maker, John Pilger, ("Life and Debt" and "This is What Democracy Looks Like" also played the same day) showed at the 5th Avenue Cinemas Monday night, Nov. 12th, and was part of Faces of the New World, an educational forum and film fest sponsored by Students For Unity and ASPSU from the Portland State University. This British made film details Indonesian history from the fall of the nationalistic Sukarno* to the present miserable IMF(International Monetary Fund) debt ridden situation while illustrating the effects of globalization.
During the subsequent British and US aided bloodbath following the Suharto coup, which was reported by the CIA as being the worst holocaust in Asia, well over a million lives were lost , with the US giving Suharto five thousand names of suspected communists. In one instance British destroyers were found to have escorted Indonesian troop transports, in another a British officer took command of an Indonesian army unit.
The IMF loaned billions to the corrupt Suharto regime amd opened up the Indonesian archipelago for exploitation of cheap labour, oil, plantations, and minerals. Most disturbing was the account of how quickly after the coup that Indonesian ministers went to Geneva to discuss the parcelling out of resources to western corporations (Siemens, GE, Exxon, Shell among many others) with no mention of the massacre that allowed the meeting to be held. also detailed was how the Suharto regime used billions in trade credits from England to buy fighter jets and other armaments in the 1980s: in essence forcing taxpayers to subsidize Indonesian subjugation of East Timor and as well as other atrocities.
At this present time IMF loans are still being paid, with a forced privatization of essential public services being the norm in these circumstances and serving as a thin excuse to take as much out of the country as possible. As the much of the loans have gone to line the pockets of Suharto's family and friends the country never profited at all from them, the announcer questions the legality of these transactions. (Over 120 million a day travels from the pockets of poorer nations to those of the rich in the form of debt payments on IMF loans). Much use was made of hidden cameras and fake aliases as the announcer toured factories where GAP and other corporation's clothes are manufactured. The interviewer thoroughly probed the meagre living and working conditions that workers have to endure -bearing in mind that this film was made in 2001- with 24 hour work days with two hours rest between shifts as common and 16 hours a day a standard practice and contrasted this with the lives of the Indonesian millionaires that benefited from the IMF loans. In an interview with one beleaguered worker, a wish is stated to become more active in the unions, so that he can have enough to feed his family and pay off for his children's medication, money being harder to come by when during the Asian crisis of 1998-99 the Indonesian currency was devalued yet the factories commissioned by Nike and GAP never increased the wages to compensate, in essence giving these corporations 25% more profit.
Examples of the effects of globalization on other countries were given, one was a train derailment in England, which followed the privatization of the once reliable British rail. The World Trade Organization is also mentioned as a country unto itself. Quite interesting were the interviews with noticeably upset IMF officials and diplomats regards the length of time with which the IMF was giving loans to obviously corrupt,barbaric, and undemocratic regimes such as Indonesia's and regards the fact that debt does indeed cause loss of essential services and low wages.
To end the announcer stated that the IMF and WTO should be abolished and replaced with democratic and transparent institutions. He showed an US agency web site which was trying to sell the idea of weapons in space needed as a deterrent because "the gap between the rich and poor will widen" . The question is begged: why, since these circumstances are not God-given, are we willing to expose our children to such a dangerous future?
*"IMF (International Monetary Fund) bloody hands off Indonesia" read one huge state sponsored sign predating 1965.
history: [ 1965 coup | post Suharno ]
[ resource extraction / deforestation | Aceh people and independence ]