This weekend I watched Salvador which is a movie about photo journalist Richard Boyle who travels to El Salvador during the begging of its Civil War. The movie depicted the violence surrounding the country at the time. It stars James Woods and was directed by Oliver Stone.
The movie takes place during the early 80’s. This was also around the same time that I was born and separated from my family.
On one side you have the right government forces who control most of the couturiers wealth. On the other you have the peasants and farmers of El Salvador who are supposedly getting help from communist countries.
I found my self drawing many parallels with the current war in Iraq. There is a very sobering scene about half way through the movie where Richard Boyle is arguing with the US military general. Boyle has just returned from the mountains of El Salvador where he has taken pictures of the guerrilla fighters. The general is drilling him for about the types of weapons that the guerrillas have. When he explains that they have simple rifles the general refuses to believe him claiming that “military intelligence” says that they have RPGs and other weapons supplied by communists.
This sounds all to familiar to me. I remember very clear George Bush making claims that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” and was being backed by terrorists nations. I think its sad really. Are we doomed to repeat our mistakes?
There is also a clip of Ronald Reagan talking about the communist terrorists and how they could take over Central America and then even north America. Once again this sounds all to familiar.
In El Salvador we funded the war because we were afraid of communists. We invaded Iraq because we were afraid of Terrorists. Honestly I think the only different between then and now is September 11th. Because of 9/11 congress allowed President Bush to lead us into a war we had no business starting. Thankfully congress did not let Regan invade El Salvador because it might be like Iraq is today. Even so it is still a very violent place to be and it might be getting worse.
Another interesting scene in the movie was when Boyle interviews the guerrillas. There was footage of them training. I can only wonder if this is what my father went through. They also mention and act out what was known as “the final offensive.” This was supposed to be the last big push by the rebels to take over the country. However it turned out to be just the beginning of a bloody 13 year war. My mother mentioned this in her last letter.
Overall it was a really good movie and I recommend if you are interested in El Salvador’s Civil War or want to see the parallels to Iraq that I mentioned.