Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My Log 264: Report on delegation to UN in defence of Abdelrazik's right to be removed from no-fly list

Recently a seven-person delegation went from Montreal to New York to plead the case of Abousfian Abdelrazik, the Canadian citizen who has been persecuted for no reason, because of his Arab descent, and who was returned from a six-year enforced exile in Sudan, during which he was tortured, but eventually cleared of all wrong-doing, only because a Canadian court ordered the Harper government to allow the man back to Canada, as provided for the in Charter of Rights.

Since his return, Abdelrazik has continued to be persecuted because his name was placed on the UN Security Council 1267 No-Fly list, and he has been struggling to get his name off the list ever since.

A group of sympathetic Canadians has steadfastly represented his case to the higher authorities, and their latest move was to send a seven-man delegation to New York to plead with the relevant committee to remove his name from the list.

The report of their mission has been issued, and I reproduce it below:

On June 16th, 2011, a seven-person delegation, acting in solidarity with Abousfian Abdelrazik, met with a representative of the German Mission to the United Nations (Germany currently chairs the 1267-Committee) and representatives of the 1267 Monitoring Team. The delegation travelled to New York to support Abdelrazik's five-year struggle to have his name removed from the Security Council's "1267" blacklist.

During the almost two-hour meeting, the delegates, most of whom knew Abdelrazik personally, stressed the urgency of removing him from the list and pointed out the obvious inconsistencies of the blacklisting regime with the founding principles of the United Nations as articulated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; including the right to freedom and to a fair trial, the prohibition on torture (false information obtained under torture seems to have been used against Abdelrazik) as well as rights to security of the person, to earn a living, and to free association.

The delegates argued that the blacklist should be abolished, not simply reformed. They were able to convey the fact that people are increasingly aware of the issue and that mounting numbers of organizations and individuals are calling for the regime to be scrapped.

The diplomatic reserve of the UN officials was briefly punctured when they were suddenly brought face-to-face with Abdelrazik via a personal video message, in which he invited those present, "and the rest of the committee to walk in my shoes. I invite you to come to live with me for one day ... I am sure this is going to touch you, because you are human beings. Please, I have suffered enough. I want to end this suffering." As the spokesperson for the 1267-Committee remarked, it was good to be reminded that there are real human beings involved.

* Full message from Abdelrazik to the 1267-Committee:


Asked for a response that delegates could bring back to Abdelrazik, the 1267-Committee spokesperson asked Abdelrazik to trust in the delisting process. As Karl Flecker, National Director of the Anti-Racism and Human Rights Department of the Canadian Labour Congress and one of the delegates, explained to media after the meeting, "What that means for Abousfian is that he has to, once again, trust the people who have had control over his life for the last five years. And to wait longer for justice. We cannot acquiesce to the hope for modest reforms to something that has fundamental injustice."

* Video of Karl Flecker and Sameer Zuberi, Canadian Muslim Forum, speaking at press briefing outside UN after the meeting:


After the press briefing, the delegates were joined outside the gates of the UN by supporters from New York and a fabulous marching band, the Rude Mechanical Orchestra:

* Audio of RMO (yes! they are singing, "hey hey, ho ho! 1267 has got to go!"):


It was clear from the meeting that the 1267-Committee is feeling international pressure and hoped to relieve some of that pressure by introducing a few modest reforms. Indeed, the meeting with the Project Fly Home delegation took place on the eve of a Security Council meeting where reforms to the blacklisting regime, as well as the political imperative of removing the Taliban from the list (in order to advance a negotiated deal in Afghanistan), were due to be discussed. However, in the end, the reforms adopted on June 17th by the Security Council to the delisting process, in resolution 1989, failed to make any significant progress towards justice. In essence, instead of 15 states having an unconditional veto over a delisting request, now only five do (the five permanent members of the security council).

* Press release from FIDH on the reforms


The delisting caravan was a focal point for support for Abdelrazik and for mounting opposition to the UN 1267-blacklist and to blacklisting schemes in general. The delegation was composed of spokespeople from seven diverse organizations: Emilie Breton, Project Fly Home; Dolores Chew, South Asian Women's Community Centre (SAWCC); Karl Flecker, Canadian Labour Congress; Pierre Jasmin, Artists for Peace; Nicole Leach, Regina Solidarity Group; James Loney, Christian Peacemaker Teams; and Sameer Zuberi, Canadian Muslim Forum. Each were backed by an extensive network from very different sectors of society.

* Delegate biographies:


The delegates delivered a letter to the 1267-Committee, calling for Abdelrazik to be delisted and for an end to the 1267-Regime, co-signed by almost 100 organizations across Canada, collectively involving millions of people: student groups, human rights organizations, faith-based organizations, labour unions, community groups, NGOs and more. These organizations were joined by American allies, including the AFL-CIO - the main American labour umbrella, with 12.2 million members - and the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), in calling for Abdelrazik to be delisted and the 1267-List to be scrapped.

* Read letter to Chair of 1267-Committee and see list of endorsers:


The blacklist spokesperson also received a stack of letters from individuals across Canada, most of whom had donated to Abdelrazik in open defiance of the sanctions imposed on him. The letters offer a snapshot of the diversity and strength of support for justice for Abdelrazik across the country.

* Read quotes from some of the letters (well worth a read!):


The delegation was preceded by events in Vancouver, Calgary, Regina, Ottawa, Kitchener and Halifax, including two sanctions-busting events, as well as a press conference in Montreal and a caravan to the border to see the delegation off. The initiative was covered by the media quite sympathetically in Canada and internationally and two editorials called for Abdelrazik to be delisted.

* Select media coverage of the delegation:


My Log 263: Follow-up to Tar Sands horror: huge shipments of machinery being fought by Oregon citizens

A reader of this blog has sent me a follow-up to my piece on the Tom Radford film about the Athabasca tar sands and its horrors.

The piece is from a magazine called Eugene Weekly, published in Eugene, Oregon, and it gives details, suitably horrendous details, of the proposal to transport monstrous machines through that pristine part of the world to Alberta to take part in the rape of the earth there; and of the fight being waged against this proposal.

The link to this article is


and I urge anyone who has any interest in these tar sands to read the piece. The proposal is to send shipments the largest of which is 210 feet long, 30 feet high, 24 feet wide and weighing 500,000 pounds, along the ordinary roads of the West, which, in the opinion of the protesters, pose all sorts of dangers en route, not even counting the harm these machines will do when once installed.

My thanks to Dana Magliari for providing this link.

Monday, June 27, 2011

My Log 262: Film on tar sands screening on Al Jazeera, gives Canada huge black eye

Tar-sands-collageImage via Wikipedia

Collage of tar sands

Canada has been receiving a well-deserved, mighty black eye around the world in the last week or so as Al Jazeera, the Arab online station now equipped with a full range of sophistication and excellent reporters, has been broadcasting a superb and persuasive film made by Niobe Nicholson and Tom Radford about the Athabasca tar sands.

The programme makes no bones about it: not only is the oil extraction from the tar sands in northern Alberta the biggest construction programme in the world, but it is also “the dirtiest oil project ever known.”

Furthermore, the programme produces a lineup of ridiculous Canadian politicians, from Stephen Harper down to the environment minister of the province of Alberta, who disgrace themselves and their nation by pretending there is absolutely nothing wrong with this project that is almost single-handedly responsible for nullifying all global efforts to reduce the emission of the carbon gases that are so gravely damaging our planet.

Radford recalls on the Al Jazeera website that he made a similar film, Death of a Delta, in 1972 using a hand-cranked Bolex camera, whose subject was the right of the small community of Fort Chipewyan to “to have a voice in the construction of a massive hydroelectric project on the Peace River, the W.A.C. Bennett Dam. At stake was not only the survival of the oldest community in Alberta, but the protection of a World Heritage site, the Peace Athabasca Delta, a convergence of migratory flyways and the greatest concentration of waterfowl on the continent. In the David and Goliath struggle that ensued, David won. Water was released from the dam and water levels in the Delta returned to normal. The unique ecology of the region was saved. The town survived.”

Today, that same David, the one thousand native residents of Fort Chipewyan are fighting an even more imposing Goliath, this monstrous development of the tar sands whose “expansion will have an estimated $1.7 trillion impact on the Canadian economy over the coming decades. An area of boreal forest the size of Greece will be affected by industrial activity. Once again the issue is water, but this time it is not just the flow of the river, but the chemicals the current may be carrying downstream from the strip mines and bitumen upgraders. In recent years, according to the Alberta Cancer Board, Fort Chipewyan has experienced an unusually high rate of cancer. Local fishermen are finding growing numbers of deformed fish in their nets.”

Radford’s online notes record that “gripped in a Faustian pact with the American energy consumer, the Canadian government is doing everything it can to protect the dirtiest oil project ever known.”

He produces a string of very calm and factual scientists who have discovered the facts about what is happening, placed those facts before the public, and are challenging the two governments to reveal their own data which has apparently persuaded them that there is nothing unusual occurring, nothing dangerous, in spite of the spike that has been recorded in cancer in the area, and who do not admit that if they were to introduce remedial measures, the cost of them would be so high that the whole operation would cease to make money.

Heaven forbid! Faced with the inexorable logic and honesty of a man like Dr. David Schindler, also a hero of the earlier struggle, the government produced an investigatory board which unequivocally concluded that improvements are needed in the governments’ methods of collecting facts about what is in the Athabasca river and delta. The local natives, led by chief Alan Adam, know that their rights --- constitutionally guaranteed, by the way --- to hunt and trap, and catch fish, have already been nullified because of the pollution of a huge area of the boreal forest in which they have always lived, along with the animals on which they have depended for their living since time immemorial. At a meeting of the chiefs of communities who inhabit the area of the tar sands, and the Athabasca delta --- a World Heritage site --- Chief Adam said bluntly, “If I am standing alone against this, I am going to have to make a deal with these mining interests,” something which, in the context of this whole development, seems unthinkable.

Already thanks to the tar sands, Canada has become the biggest supplier of oil to the United States, and the most chilling statement in the film comes from Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State in the Obama administration, that they have to depend on dirty oil from the Arabian gulf, or on dirty oil frm the Athabasca tar sands. In other words, money is primary; the incessant demands of the modern economy for ceaseless exponential growth, a mantra that is shared by every government on earth, so far as one can tell, must be fed, one way or the other. This is a suicide position.

Never mind the boreal forest; never mind the animal populations that are already under immense pressure; never mind the rights of local native tribes. Give us that oil, Jack, we need it…

Tom Radford is to be congratulated for this movie. Al Jazeera is to be congratulated for screening it every day for nine days on the trot.

And our Canadian politicians have surely been given a warning that they cannot afford to stand at the head of the lineup of people who don’t give a damn about the health of the earth. Something’s gotta give, and Albertans and the rest of it, if we have any say in it, are going to have to face up to what we are doing to the earth.

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

My Log 251: The world of the traveller today: mass tourism, or luxury tourism, and its deleterious impact on the human environment.

View on Dubrovnik (Croatia), with the Crystal ...Image via Wikipedia

Dubrovnik, Croatia: the mass tourists arrive
I have done quite a bit of travelling in the last two or three years, and have begun to develop a stronger than ever distaste for the impact of mass tourism on the human environment.

First, on a visit to my home country of New Zealand, I found evidence that the luxury tourism business into which New Zealand has now slotted itself, has reduced what was once an agreeable, modest little country of mostly small towns, into a major rip-off place. This was later confirmed by a British Rugby writer, Peter Bills, of the Independent, who had exactly the same feeling about it, after many trips. And it has been reconfirmed by the reports of the extravagant prices being charges by many operators for the coming Rugby World Cup, the most recent of these, unless my memory betrays me, suggesting that one operator is charging $15,000 a night, or something equally ludicrous.

At the moment I am on my second visit to Dubrovnik, in Croatia, a small, walled city, extremely beautiful, but one that after being more or less restored to its full glory following Yugoslavia’s disastrous wars of the 1990s, has now been completely taken over by the tourist industry, not so much just luxury tourism, as mass tourism.

Not a day goes by without the arrival of some cruise liner, which shuffles its passengers ashore in tenders, disgorges them in one or other of two harbours, and then sends them marching off around the town under the guidance of guides who hold up signs with numbers and languages to indicate where each tourist can find his proper place. These guides, who do presumably know a lot about the city and its history, pause on the streets from time to time as they go through their spiel. They are under strict orders to perform certain functions, to show their packs of people certain notable landmarks, and at each landmark they have an allotted time, beyond which they cannot dare venture for fear that the following group might overtake them. In one palace, currently used for symphony concerts in the evenings, but traditionally one of the central buildings in the choosing of the Parliament, they have had to build a second door so that the occupying group, if one may call it such, can escape by the back as the following group is marching through the front door.

Why anyone would regard being herded about a town in this way as having anything to do with a holiday is beyond me. Personally I am here staying with a friend, who I am helping as she tries to build an autobiographical account of her rather remarkable life. Yesterday we went as a small group of five to have a meal along a river that runs into the second harbour, called Gruz, on the other side of town. Just getting on the bus among these crowds of tourists, with their baby-carriages and their backpacks, and their intensity, an experience to which one apparently commits oneself voluntarily in the full flowering of one’s mind, gave me as much of a whiff of this kind of tourism as I will ever need. Verily, it was a sort of nightmare, until the mob disembarked from the bus en route, leaving us to find in solitude a very pleasing riverside restaurant free of the pack.

My friend, who has lived here for 40 years, complains that in the old days the city was full of little shops offering services of all kinds –— barbers, tailors, grocers, wine merchants, drapers, and so on. Now, she says, these have all gone, or nearly all gone, and been replaced by shops selling T-shirts made in China.

One is constantly being solicited by beautiful young woman with brochures advertising this or that thing: one I picked up yesterday advertises the locations of three stores within two streets of a firm called T-shirt World, which promises to transfer anything anyonewould want on to a T-shirt, “within one minute.” This has apparently become the quintessential event of mass tourism, allowing the participant to offer a hackneyed T-shirt to nieces and nephews on return home. “We are offering a catalogue with over 500 applications --- funny, new, always actual, with Dubrovnik motifs or desired text and picture,” says the brochure, which, although quite small, is printed in six languages.

I love that expression “always actual”, whatever it means. Of course, only 20 years ago they were pummeling each other to smithereens, these people, in favor of each of their nationalisms, so that “always actual” might contain some sort of hidden message. I hope not.
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Thursday, June 9, 2011

My Log 260: Air Canada: the perfectly Incommunicado Social System, isolated from their customers, never a real voice to answer a phone

Interior of Ottawa Airport terminal, Ontario, ...Image via Wikipedia
Ottawa Airport

A few years ago I worked for a few months with a sociologist Ben
Singer, from the University of Windsor, who gave me a copy of a paper he had written called Incommunicado Social Systems. His thesis was that every major entity in our society --- government or private --- was sheltering behind a wall of electronics that effectively isolated them from their customers.

To prove his point, he loved to go into a bank with a cheque which he would demand they cash. Oh, no, sir, we can’t cash this cheque. Of course you can, Ben would sad, let me talk to your supervisor.

Ben knew quite well that by simply picking up a phone to confirm the cheque, they could cash it. And he was prepared to wait for hours until he had persuaded them to do it.

I thought of this yesterday when I was trying to confirm an air booking I made online in March, for next week. I had the ticket, but I wondered if I could either check in, in advance, or book my own seat, and print my own boarding pass. When I got in touch with Air Canada, they demanded my booking number. I gave them two numbers that seemed to be what I had been given as a booking number, but they did not recognize either of them, so I couldn’t take my inquiry further without telephoning them directly.

So I did that, and after hanging on for ten minutes or so was advised that the wait time for a telephone connection would be 45 minutes.

Forty-five minutes! Unheard of. Oh, well, I thought, I will just pop into their booking office downtown and check all this out.

Think again, old man. I discovered to my amazement that they closed all their downtown offices years ago. Their only office in Ottawa is at Ottawa airport, which would require for a guy without a car, a ride costing $30, and another $30 coming back. No thanks, old man.

So it seems Air Canada has fulfilled Ben Singer’s requirements as an Incommunicado Social System. They have isolated themselves into a remote place where they can’t be visited, and further isolated themselves behind a telephone system that doesn’t give a connection.

I tried again today, and although they still rejected my numbers, they did, somehow or other this time print out my ticket, which at least proves that they know about me. As for checking in and printing my own boarding pass, not until 24 hours before I leave am I able to do that.

Twenty-four hours! Don’t they realize that is almost as long before departure as I have to be at the airport just to go through their stupid, pointless, intrusive security checks.

Wow! The modern world., It isn’t like it was when I was a kid riding my bike around a New Zealand village.

Of course, that was almost eighty years ago.

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Map of the major existing and proposed russian...Image via Wikipedia

Link of the Day June 9 2011: Central Asia is alive with intrigue, according to this fascinating story from the Asia Times Online, written by M K Bhadraku, US breathes life into a new cold war. Kazakhstan alone has the biggest reservoir of natural gas in the world, and the US has been angling to get hold of it: but Russia is using energy policy as a prong of geopolitics, has become the major energy supplier in Europe, which suggests a weakening of the American hold over Europe. And there is a great new alliance forming embracing China, Russia and the central Asian republics that the US doesn’t like at all. This is great stuff, as so much in the Asia Times Online is.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Link of the Day June 8 2011

Here is an article of relevance in Canada: why do people vote for centre-left parties (like the NDP) that are proven to be useless in confronting the enemy of the people, namely, the owners of capital, and their neoliberal politicial policies. Steve McGiffen, writing in Dissident Voice, says such votes are useless --- as has been proven over and over again in Europe, most of whose citizens are natural supporters of the welfare state, but have been disappointed by their left-leaning parties, but some hope may rest in the extra-parliamentary movements of dissent that are emerging everywhere. Read Social Democracy and Social Progress….

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My Log 259: A man of strong will and unquenchable spirit has died, who was an inspiration to everyone who knew him

Jacob Diegel, with whom I have hung out in the Morala coffee shop on Bank street in the Glebe in the last few years, has died. In his memory I posted the following piece in the window of the coffee shop. Since I wrote it I have been told by his son that he was not only a man of amazing resilience and spirit, but in his younger days he had tremendous physical strength, having been known to lift a 45-gallon oil drum (500 pounds) on to the back of a truck by himself.

With that small addition, which certainly hangs together as all of a piece with what I knew of him, my piece stands:

Jacob Diegel, a regular customer of this café, and a friend and inspiration to many of us, has died, and these few words are designed in memory of him.

What made Jacob remarkable was his indomitable spirit. In 1985 he suffered a severe accident when working one of the machines he owned as he worked in the bush close to Thunder Bay, and from that moment until his death a quarter of a century later, he was in constant pain. Somehow or other he contrived to ignore this, and to maintain his cheerful outlook on life, until almost the end. His suffering was intense, and would have stopped most men from being ambulatory, but nothing could stop Jacob.

A few years ago he fell over and broke his leg in several places. His doctors doubted that he would ever walk again, but after a longish stint in hospital, his leg healed, more or less, and he was back among us, now hobbling on two sticks instead of one, but still ready for a joke and a laugh.

I enjoyed his company many times, and my memory of him is of the many laughs we had together. We were the same age, within a month, and pretended to be wiser than those around us. At one point I had Jacob and the others who usually gathered around schooled to react when I would say on arrival. “You know what it is out there?” Jacob was always ready with the answer. “It’s bloody criminal out there,” he would say, borrowing my antipodean slang.

Jacob’s wife, Mrs. Diegel, came into the café occasionally, and although she was not in the best of health was always able to carry on with us a serious conversation not only about their life together, but about the affairs of the world --- a charming, good-humoured woman, the essential life-long partner needed to help Jacob through his many trials.

How many times did he tell us how, when his son was a teenager, he gave management of one of his cutting machines to him during the school and university holidays, and told him he could keep the profits from his work on the machine, which, Jacob proudly added, was evidently good training, for the boy had become a successful lawyer in Ottawa?

How many times did he tell of his three grandsons, of whom he was so inordinately proud as he introduced them to us when they came into the café in search of him?

Jacob came to Canada from Germany in 1951 as an immigrant, but after a few years during which he worked in the bush, enjoying the outdoor life, he was called back to manage his family’s large restaurant. It was not work that he enjoyed --- “too many drunks,” he used to say --- and one day, as he was passing a Canadian consulate, on an impulse he went in and began the formalities for returning to Canada. Then he went back home and told his wife, who had no particular wish to return to Canada. (A brave man, Jacob, to do such a thing, but Mrs. Diegel, however reluctant she might have been, was up to the challenge, went along with his decision, and they returned to Canada for good).

He built a good business close to Thunder Bay, bought a small shack on 12 acres of land in the countryside, worked it over and expanded it in the succeeding years, and when he left it to join his son in Ottawa (his effective working life having been cut by his accident) he had a beautiful home, the fruit of his and his wife’s labour and their love of the countryside he had always worked in.

Once again, after that recent severe accident, he fell and again damaged himself: one would have imagined that would almost have finished him off. But within a few weeks he appeared again, even more shaky than before on his two sticks, but always with his customary bright smile and cheerful greeting.

Often he came into the café on his way back from the frequent visits he had to make to the hospital. In his last few years his health problems became intense. If it wasn’t his leukemia, with which he had lived for many years, it was his internal bleeding that required him to have numerous blood transplants; or just the need to take such care not to knock his arms, or bang his legs against anything, which could create severe bruising.

I can say one thing for sure, for everyone who knew him in the cafe: we were all cheered to see him appear at the door, put away his two sticks, and make his way painstakingly to the counter to order his coffee. He had that gift for bringing optimism and good cheer with him, just by the sheer doggedness and unquenchable spirit that kept him going, and smiling.

We will all miss him terribly. He was an inspiration to all of us, and we extend to his wife and family our sincere condolences in their loss. We know how much he meant to you all: and I can say he meant as much to all of us.

Boyce Richardson

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Link of the Day June 6 2011: In a significant article in the New York Times, Justin Gillis raises and investigates yet another major global problem: the suspected impact of climate change on agricultural yields. Read this important information, which signals a halt to the success of the Green Revolution, and the problems that lie ahead for scientists whose budgets are being squeezed, as they race to find a solution to inevitable problems.
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Saturday, June 4, 2011

My Log 258: Remarkable Spanish film, Even the Rain, shows that our modern version of colonialism is as bad as the historical version

I saw a remarkable Spanish film last night which dealt with a number of issues of importance in the modern world ---- the problems of neo-colonialism, the oppression of indigenous people, the greed of multinational corporations, the corruption of governments. In other words, it was the kind of film that personally I think most films should be like --- committed, radical, and determined to face the real world.

The name of the film is Even the Rain, its director was Icíar Bollaín, a woman, and the film was one of those on the fringes of nomination for an Academy Award this year as best foreign language film.

The film deals with an attempt by a low-budget film crew to shoot a movie about the arrival of Christopher Columbus among the indigenous people of South America. Bolivia was chosen as the location for the film-within-the-film because of the easy availability of cheap extras, who could be hired for a few dollars a day. The movie opens with a huge line up of impoverished Indians who had responded to the promise of the filmmakers that everyone would be considered who showed up, which turned out to be the first of many promises they were unable to fulfil.

A leader among this straggle of impoverished people turned out to be a riveting personality called Daniel, played with extraordinary intensity by Juan Carlos Aduviri, who had turned up with his daughter, and whose demand that his daughter be given a chance to act in the movie attracted the attention of the filmmakers. Daniel was chosen to play the lead, but what the filmmakers did not know was that he was also the leader of an immense movement of the Indians who had taken to the streets to protest the handing over of the Cochambamba water supply to a private company.
This was a real event in Bolivia, fought by impoverished peasants against the local authorities.

When the filmmakers discovered this, when Daniel was arrested and beaten, they pleaded with him to stand aloof from the protest, at least until they had managed to shoot their essential scenes, and offered him a large bribe to do so. He took half of the money, but did not keep to his bargain, arguing, when upbraided by the producer, that the argument the Indians were undertaking was about water, that water was life, and the filmmakers did not understand the real priorities.

Thus the themes of colonialism, as illustrated by the story being told about Columbus, and of neo-colonialism, as illustrated by the behaviour of the film crew, and of the government in forcing the people to accept huge payments beyond their means for the very water they depended on for their lives, were intertwined from the beginning, and were forcing the filmmakers to act in the brutal way customary in colonies, whether of the ancient, or of the modern world.

The director of the film-within-the-film, played with a winning hesitancy and charm by the well-known actor Gael García Bernal, at first argued against accepting the ultimatum of the government that if Daniel was allowed to play his role in those essential scenes, then the producers should agree to surrender him to the army when they were finished, The producer agreed, the director did not. But later, after yet another violent demonstration, when Daniel’s daughter was injured and needed urgent medical attention, it was the producer whose heart melted and the director who insisted he must get his whole crew out of the area before they were endangered by the violence. In these shrewd plot twists the filmmaker, Senora Bollain did not dodge the fact that colonialist attitudes are human and stem from moral decisions made by those who are imposing their power on weaker groups.

This is the kind of decision that is seldom confronted in your usual Hollywood film: but it was confronted in this movie, and no one in the audience could have been left without knowledge about what was really involved in the story told by this movie.

The only film I can remember that dealt with this theme was Celui Qui Doit Mourier (He Who Must Die), the first film made in Europe by Jules Dassin in the 1950s, after he was exiled from the United States because of his political views, and incidentally the film in which he first met Melina Mercouri, the great Greek actress, who later became not only his wife, but a minister in the post-colonels government of Greece. Mercouri was such a figure that when she died more than a million people came out in the streets to be present at her funeral. The Dassin film was made from a Kazantzakis novel, and dealt with the ironies of a desperate group of refugees arriving in a Cretan village, and being rejected, as the villagers were mounting the annual Passion play, emphasizing the contrast between the cruel behaviour of the local powers, and the moral of the story they were telling.

In our own era, when such huge sums of money are spent on making the most trivial and absurd movies, it is good to be reminded by films such as Even the Rain, that films should be about the major problems confronting people, especially (at least in my view) the relationship between classes, between power and people, between decency, humanity, and naked greed.