Globalization: collateral damage

In his documentary entitled "Darwin's Nightmare", Hubert Sauper shows how globalization becomes the ultimate stage of human evolution, and how the law of the strongest, applied to the economic and social system, generates ecological and human catastrophes.

Tanzania, shore of Lake Victoria, end of the 50s. It is in this hitherto unspoiled region that Westerners decide to introduce the "Nile perch", a fish much appreciated by European and Japanese consumers but which will prove to be a formidable predator, transforming one of the richest ecosystems in the world into a dead zone. This predator has indeed eliminated the 200 species of fish originally present in Lake Victoria, leaving water without oxygen and without living species. The species of fish that fed on algae have gradually disappeared, the algae accumulate, die and cause falls in oxygen levels, while the Nile perch ends up feeding on its own young, for lack of other resources… Over-exploited by more and more fishermen - in 1970, 4.000 boats brought back 15.000 tonnes of fish, in 1980 their number increased to 6.000 and fishing produced 100.000 tonnes of fish - the Nile perch , in a few decades, transformed a 500 year old lake into eutrophied waters.
In Mwanza, a town on the shore of Lake Victoria, between 500 and 1000 tonnes of fish arrive in factories every day and are then transported to Europe by Russian cargo planes. But the planes do not only carry fish: they arrive in Africa loaded with weapons, sold by Europeans to the protagonists of the guerrillas which prevail in the region - Rwanda, Congo, Burundi ... - Hubert Sauper shows the incessant ballet of these planes, some of whom - the height of cynicism - bring humanitarian aid to the UN refugee camps at the same time as they bring them the weapons that will kill them. Without being totally ignored, the innumerable wars are often qualified as "tribal conflicts", like those of Rwanda and Burundi. The hidden causes of such unrest are, in most cases, imperialist interests in natural resources, "said the author, who made a previous film in 1998 on Rwanda.

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Capitalism won "

At the same time as this fatal spectacle, the director shows the arrival of a delegation from the European Commission, who came to congratulate, along with local industrialists, on the economic success of the Nile perch. 34 million euros have been paid by Europe to develop this sector, the production of which is intended only for Western consumers (2267 tonnes in 2004 for the French market only). The population that survives on the shores of the lake only feeds on fish waste unfit for sale. Because this industry has not only destroyed the ecological wealth of the region, it has also torn apart the local economic and social system, the small local fishermen excluded from the Nile perch industry having no other species to fish. The eternal question of wondering which social and political structure is best for the world seems to have been answered, notes the author. Capitalism has won. Future societies will be governed by a consumerist system perceived as "civilized" and "good". In the Darwinian sense, the "good system" has won. He won by convincing or eliminating his enemies. " Unemployment, destroyed families, fragmented communities: in this relentless demonstration of biological and social Darwinism, Hubert Sauper shows, without misery, the ravages of capitalism on human beings. Prostitution, alcoholism, acute prevalence of AIDS, street children who sniff the melted plastic of fish packaging… the destruction of local life is indeed a Darwinesque nightmare. "I tried to transform the success story of a fish and the ephemeral" boom "around this" perfect "animal into an ironic and frightening allegory of the new world order, explains Hubert Sauper. But the demonstration would be the same in Sierra Leone and the fish would be diamonds, in Honduras they would be bananas, and in Iraq, Nigeria or Angola, they would be crude oil. "

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Darwin's Nightmare, Hubert Sauper's film was released in theaters on March 2, 2005. The film has received 8 awards at international festivals, including the Europea Cinemas Award at the 2004 Venice International Film Festival.

Véronique Smée

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