By Phil Hall | November 7, 2010

Jamie Moffett’s documentary focuses on life in El Salvador in the years following the country’s 1980-1992 civil war, which ended in more than 75,000 killed and nearly one-fifth of the population displaced. The good news is that the peace accord between the right-wing military-dominated government and the left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) held secure; in 2009, FMLN-supported candidate Mauricio Funes was elected president.

The bad news, however, is that relatively little has changed since 1992: El Salvador remains a dreadfully poor and deeply violent society, where assassinations are commonplace and government corruption never seems to abate. The film profiles several activists who were forced to flee in the 1980s, but returned two decades later with the hope of bringing more social stability to their country.

Much of the blame for ongoing mess is placed on U.S. policies: the Reagan Administration’s unwavering backing of the El Salvadoran military in the 1980s and the current deportation of gang member Salvadorans illegally residing in the U.S. (these miscreants re-establish their gang activities in the native land). A good chunk of the film is devoted to the examination on the June 2009 kidnapping and murder of Marcelo Rivera, an environmental activist opposed to the encroachment of Canada’s Pacific Rim gold mining operations.

However, the film recklessly faults the mining company as having a role in the crime – without producing any evidence to back this serious charge. This unbalanced reporting lethally dilutes the film’s effectiveness, which ruins what could have been a powerful film.

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