007 Bolivian socialist?


Source: New Statesman

The plot of the Quantum of Solace makes reference to a real struggle carried out by the social movements of Bolivia – but it wasn’t an action hero that secured changes, it was ordinary people.

A rusty pipe hangs from an improvised water tower, and drips miserably into the desert air. A crowd of simple-looking people in traditional Andean clothes, their dark faces furrowed with worry, surround it with empty buckets and containers, waiting for the water to come gushing out, but the pipe has run dry. They turn away in dismayed resignation.

This is one of the silent set-pieces in the new Bond film Quantum of Solace, set in Bolivia, which takes as its inspiration the struggle to control water and other natural resources in the developing world. Bond is on a mission to stop a faux-environmentalist billionaire from secretly appropriating all of Bolivia’s water supply by replacing its left of centre president with a handpicked despot, in a coup which the USA blithely ignores.

As in most Bond films, the ‘Bolivian’ extras (no footage was shot in Bolivia) provide a voiceless, picturesque background against which the heroics can be played out. The plot of the film makes reference to a real struggle carried out by the social movements of Bolivia to resist privatisation of water supplies, and while it is broadly sympathetic, it is also based on a central conceit: that the Bolivian people need the intervention of a suit-clad British action hero to save them from grasping transnationals and corrupt governments.

However, recent history in Bolivia contradicts this: the long struggle to reclaim sovereign control over natural resources has been fought by everyday women and men, through direct action and democratic participation, and control has been won with nary a high-octane plane chase in sight.

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