State of Fear: The Truth About Terrorism
3 1/2 stars
Peru's two-decade internecine conflict between the Maoist Shining Path guerillas and the various governments that have tried to stifle the uprising has resulted in the deaths of at least 70,000 people. Based on the declassified records of the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, this exceptional documentary details the atrocities committed by both sides of the conflict. For Shining Path - ironically founded by a professor (Abimael Guzman, subsequently captured) - anyone not sympathetic to the cause became a target for slaughter, while for the Peruvian military, the non-Spanish-speaking Indian population were automatically assumed to be part of Shining Path and were therefore marked for execution - even when no evidence existed to suggest collusion. Shining Path's days were numbered after they took their campaign into the capital of Lima, shocking the nation's middle class and ruling elite. The 1990 election of Alberto Fujimori, who campaigned as being tough on terrorism, helped speed the end of Shining Path's reign of terror, but ushered in an equally oppressive regime in which anyone who questioned government policies was considered a traitor deserving of arrest and imprisonment. Director Pamela Yates offers an expert blend of original interviews with various individuals from both sides, rare video footage, and dubious government news reports which would be laughable if they were not ultimately responsible for creating so much pain and distrust. A disturbing and harrowing film, this is highly recommended.
Cynthia McClintock, Professor of Political Science, George Washington University
State of Fear is a masterpiece. Through vivid depictions of several horrific attacks in Peru's mountains, as well as through revealing, poignant interviews with innocent victims, soldiers, and insurgents, the film shows the agony that Peru's war inflicted. The film is narrated primarily by distinguished members of Peru's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, who emphasize that, if internal war is not to recur, we must understand its various causes and know its tragic effects. State of Fear is the most significant advance toward these ends in years.
Alexander Wilde, Chair, Board of Directors, Washington Office on Latin America
State of Fear is brilliant in conveying a story informed by its humane values and classical in its devotion to truth, like the best human rights reporting. It is remarkably fair, coherent and well documented. On Peru at this point it's the gold standard; it has no peer.
Juan E. M?ndez, President, International Center for Transitional Justice and United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide
In all my years of working in the field of international human rights, I have never seen a film that so successfully describes a national struggle for justice and its universal implications. State of Fear is a must-see film for educators and activists working in the field of international human rights and Latin American studies.
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