NR | 1 h 33 min | Documentary | Aug. 10, 2023
Colonialism is alive and well in today’s world, but it's now best represented by the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP's) “Belt and Road Initiative.” The CCP is strangling Ecuador, especially the country’s indigenous population, with a system of predatory loans and contracts that extract valuable land-use “concessions.”
Alarmed by the damage wrought by Chinese mining and petroleum interests that threaten their traditional way of life, many such indigenous Ecuadorians have organized an underground resistance to their Chinese colonizers and the leftist government facilitating their plunder of the nation’s land.
'This Stolen Country of Mine'
There's a spiritual dynamic to the indigenous uprising, reflected in the ceremony that opens Mr. Wiese’s documentary. He also captures the stunning beauty of the mountainous Ecuadorian countryside. Indeed, there are great parallels between what's happening in Ecuador and China’s systematic despoilment of the Tibetan environment by similar state-connected mining concerns.
The stakes are high, as viewers quickly discern. In fact, the film nearly ends before it even reaches the 10-minute mark, when Mr. Wiese and the activists he's accompanying are pulled over by police. Fortunately, they take advantage of the chaos generated by a nearby riot in front of a Chinese-owned mine to slip off into the mountains.
Corrupt Policies and PracticesIn explaining China’s relationship with Ecuador, Mr. Villavicencio bluntly tells viewers: “We’ve been colonized.” For his efforts, he became a fugitive in his own country, facing arrest, even after Mr. Correa engaged in “lawfare” lawsuits to destroy the journalist financially.
Yet, ironically, Mr. Correa might endorse this exposé of his misrule, considering that he's now in exile himself, having fallen out with his hand-picked successor, Lenín Moreno (who was indeed named after the Bolshevik). Most of the worst police actions documented in “This Stolen Country of Mine” were perpetrated under Mr. Moreno’s watch. Ecuador finally turned against toxic leftism in their most recent election, but the problem is that they're still saddled with all these exploitative Chinese agreements.
It should also be noted that Mr. Wiese is a filmmaker with an eye for visuals and an affinity for the poetic. He incorporates several impressionistic interludes that soak up the grandeur of the Ecuadorian landscape. But the film, mostly through Mr. Villavicencio, still cogently explains the corrupt policies and practices that transferred control of the Latin American country’s natural resources to the CCP establishment.
There has been some international news coverage of the CCP’s nakedly colonialist campaign to dominate Africa, but their similarly imperialistic campaign in Latin America (within our own hemisphere) has largely flown under the media radar. Mr. Wiese’s documentary is a good introduction to the subject, but much more light needs to be shed on China’s corrupting influence on Ecuador and other nations in the Americas.
From start to finish, it's clear that Mr. Wiese’s sympathies lie with the indigenous people and those who share their environmental concerns. Indeed, Mr. Wiese’s affinity for causes superficially associated with “the left” makes the film quite effective as an indictment of CCP imperialism and its Chavist allies.
At times, “This Stolen Country of Mine” could be described as artistically crafted, but it exposes systemic injustice and corruption. It also comes at an appropriate time. The world’s democratic nations need to formulate a strategy to help developing nations untangle themselves from the Belt and Road Initiative.
Mr. Wiese and his subjects present convincing evidence of the damage China has done. It's very highly recommended.