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Documentary Features Campesinos

June 25, 2004

A group of six students from theUniversity of Costa Rica (UCR) has produceda documentary that aims to raiseawareness about the situation lived by thecampesinos of Bambuzal.More than 100 men, women and childreninvolved in a land dispute withbanana exporter Standard Fruit Company,a subsidiary of Dole, have been living inthe Metropolitan Cathedral in downtownSan José since April 25 because they saythey risk being arrested if they go near theNorthern Zone farm they claims rights to(TT, June 11).The campesinos have squatted on thefarm, called El Bambuzal, near Río Frío deSarapiquí in the north-central part of thecountry, off and on since 2001 and believethey have earned permanent rights to theland under Costa Rican law. They areawaiting an agrarian trial to settle the issuein a Guápiles court.ENTITLED “Bambuzal”, the 30-minute documentary contains emotionalpersonal interviews with many of thecampesinos living in the church, as well asamateur video footage of police expellingthem from the farm. It sharply criticizesofficials for allegedly using excessiveforce to kick them out of Bambuzal.“We feel the press has not given the situationenough coverage, and some of theinformation reported is not true,”explained Lidia Granados, a student whoworked on the documentary.“Our goal with this documentary is toinform people about what’s really goingon,” she said.THE making of the documentary wasa spontaneous idea.“The Bambuzal problem has beengoing on for several years,” Granados said.“When they began camping at the cathedral,we took a camera and began conductinginterviews and filmed them, with theirpermission.”The documentary premiered during adiscussion panel on Bambuzal held in Mayat UCR’s Social Sciences Faculty. The filmwas later shown after a free showing ofMichael Moore’s Oscar-winning documentary“Bowling for Columbine.”“The response we have received fromstudents has been very positive,” Granadosexplained. “Many students have changedtheir minds about the situation inBambuzal.”Now that it has reached the studentcommunity, the film’s creators hope tomake its message available to a wideraudience. Channel 15, the University’stelevision network, may air the documentaryin the coming weeks.VHS copies of the movie are availableat the Anthropology and Social Work studentunions for ¢2,000 ($4.50) for studentsand individuals, and ¢8,000 ($18) for organizations.A DVD version is planned in thecoming months. For more info, call 207-5884.PRESIDENT Abel Pacheco this weekdefended the government’s actions inBambuzal. This administration, he said,has done everything it can to help thecampesinos.“Costa Rica is a country with laws;people’s property is respected,” Pachecosaid during Tuesday’s weekly Cabinetmeeting. “It’s not correct. The Bambuzalcampesinos entered private property that isnot theirs. I think the government hasoffered them all types of solutions.”According to Pacheco, the governmenthas offered land to the campesinosthat were eligible to receive assistance.However, not all of the people that haveasked for land really needed it, he said.“If there are campesinos that requireland to be able to work, I will be the first togive it to them,” Pacheco said.

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