Bitter Cane

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Haiti was first colonised by the French, who turned the island into a giant coffee plantation. In 1804, it witnessed the world's first successful slave revolution. The US Marines arrived in 1915, introduced American capital investment, shifted the economy towards producing crops and products for export, and set up the first in a series of puppet dictators to protect their interests. And, aside from a brief hiccough under Papa Doc Duvalier, that's the way it's been ever since. This history is outlined eloquently and succinctly in Arcelin's documentary, shot clandestinely in Haiti in collaboration with the Mouvement Haitien de Libération. The film avoids all the pitfalls of agitprop rhetoric; its only (forgivable) weakness is that it gets emotionally carried away by some of its ghastly human testimonies.

By: TR

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