Hurricane Katrina was a tragedy in every possible sense and meaning of the word that you can imagine. Perhaps the biggest of it all, was the total failure of the United States of America's government to prevent the catastrophe and provide relieve afterwards. This is something that we don't expect from what we are taught is the most powerful country in the world. As a result, many articles and books have been written and films made that document this failure in its entire splendor. The powerful and unforgettable "America Betrayed" takes a well-researched and penetrating look at some of the factors that lead us to such a shameful disaster.
Right at the beginning of the documentary, we are told that the devastation created by Hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans on August 29, 2005, was not the result of a natural disaster. We learn that it was actually a man-made disaster, in which 80% of the city was sadly flooded - a hell that could had been prevented. Director Leslie Cardé remarkably documents how this failure was the result of the relationship that the US Army Corps of Engineers' (USACE) incompetent management and the greedy corporate sector - via profitable contracts - has. The USACE is the agency that is in charge of planning and designing of bridges, dams, levees, and similar structures that serve the nation. Cardé interviews several agency and government officials, academicians, etc., and provides evidence after evidence of how the USACE builds relationships with corrupt politicians and hires contractors with shadowy reputations, which unashamedly overbill their employers, hence the taxpayers money. The result, of course, is Katrina, Because of this destructive relationship, we witnessed the annihilation of one of the major and historically important cities in the US. No matter how much restoration takes place, the soul of the city is gone with some of its people. Cardé wisely connects all the abuses committed by politicians, USACE, and contractors with the term Disaster Capitalism, which clearly has shown that in any recent wars or disasters, these people are more interested in making money that helping their fellow citizens in need. She rightly concludes that this behavior is definitely related to the so-called Shock Doctrine, which Naomi Klein so brilliantly discusses in her best-selling book.
Cardé also adequately discusses USACE-related projects in other cities across the US, and we witness how some of these cities are taking justice into their own hands in working hard and against time in trying to prevent any future disasters.
"America Betrayed" will not tell anything new if you have been able to read the actions of our government well. The signs are all there - you just need to make the associations. However, the director provides so much valuable information that helps us understand the system better, how we are being pillaged and how greed is destroying our institutions. It is a powerful and well-produced indictment against some government and non-government officials that are eating us alive. It will surely put the health care debate into perspective, and make us understand why there is one greedy party that doesn't want it to happen. If there is no money in it, we don't want it. The DVD also includes an interview with the director, as well as bonus interviews with the people that shared their thoughts in this film. It also provides a resource guide. (USA, 2008, color, 94 min plus additional materials). Reviewed on September 17, 2009 by Eric Gonzalez for [...].