Oliver Stone presents in limited release in the US and Europe, a documentary film called South of the Border. A tidal wave of leftist governments has been flowing throughout the Americas. If in 2006 Manuel López Obrador had won, Mexico would have joined the surge. In light of how these events are covered even in the countries where the changes occurred, by the main media outlets, this movie is a welcomed change.
This movement towards the left, was started in reaction to the US controlled International Monetary Fund and its neoliberal policies. That is the unifying factor that spurred what is called the Bolivarian Movement. Stone jetsets to five countries to meet seven Latin American heads of state. Besides Hugo Chavez who is the main focus of the movie, he visits Evo Morales of Bolivia; Cristina Kirchner of Argentina (and her husband, ex-president Nestor Kirchner); Lula da Silva of Brazil; Fernando Lugo of Paraguay; Rafael Correa of Ecuador; and Raul Castro of Cuba. It's uncommon to hear words that aren't just sound bites to portray them as monsters. They are humanized here, Chavez visits the home of his birth, and falls off and breaks a bicycle. We see Chavez driving around Caracas, and casually being approached without a wall of security. Evo Morales teaches Stone how to eat coca, and plays some soccer with him.
The biggest part of the movie focuses on Hugo Chavez. Included is footage of the coup by Chavez against Carlos Andrés Pérez in 1992. Chavez taking responsibility for the coup and surrendering is shown, as is hero status after being let out of prison. Much of what was covered better in The Revolution Will Not Be Televised about the 2002 coup was recapped. This is shown alternately with mostly Fox News coverage of events for joke effect.
George W. Bush (43) was castigated for the US's immediate support for the 2002 coup. This film was made the time when Barack Obama was inaugurated president of the US. All of the leaders are shown watching an inauguration speech by Obama. Chavez hopes he will be like Roosevelt, and initiate a New Deal. Not only Oliver Stone had illusions Obama would be different than other imperialists.
Lula da Silva told about how the IMF tried to discourage him from paying off all of Brazil's debt to the IMF. We meet Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, who came to power with a background in Liberation Theology. The Nestors tell Stone, we now have presidents in South America who look like the people. Bolivia had a president who didn't speak Spanish. Rafael Correa says the US can have a military base in Ecuador, if he can in Miami.
Oliver Stone made it clear near the end of the movie, he wasn't socialist. He believes in a "benign capitalism." I wouldn't use that point to condemn the movie, but rather as a good point for discussion. The Bolivarian leaders are not a monolith. Stone makes them all seem as equals. The subject of the revolutionary tide in Latin America is dealt with superficially, still the positives of this movie outweigh the negatives.