During the night between December 2nd and 3rd of 1984 the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India released methyl isocyanate gas and other toxins into the air resulting in what has been estimated as somewhere between 2,259 to as many as 15,000 immediate deaths. Now more then 25 years after the initial gas leak the 390 tonnes of toxins remaining on the site continue to leak into the surrounding groundwater resulting in birth defects, ongoing medical problems, and death among those living adjacent to the plant. With Union Carbide now being owned by Dow Chemical, the chances of any real restitution being made to those who suffered from the initial leak, those who are being born sick, or the mess even being cleaned up sufficiently to prevent any future damage appear non-existent.
So the world was shocked to hear a Dow Chemical spokesman, Jude Finisterra, appearing on a BBC World News special commemorating the 20th anniversary in 2004 announcing the company was going to immediately liquidate Union Carbide and use the money from the sale, around 12 billion dollars, to clean up the site and properly recompense all those who were suffering because of the spill. With their share price plummeting (it fell 4.2% in 23 minutes for a loss of around two billion dollars), Dow was quick to release a statement denying they had any such plans and that the person who made the statement wasn't their employee. Who was Jude Finisterra and how did one of the most respected news agencies in the world come to believe he was actually a spokesperson for a huge, multinational corporation?
Well, the folk at the BBC shouldn't feel so bad, for according to a new documentary being released on April 1 on DVD by Docurama Films, The Yes Men Fix The World, they weren't the first or the last to be fooled by the brilliant activist duo known as the The Yes Men. Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno have been traveling the world posing as everything from special assistants to the head of HUD, the arm of the American government responsible for public housing, to representatives of the World Trade Organization in their quest to fix the world. While they have had some great successes dating back to their early days working separately with Mike switching the voice boxes of Barbie dolls with GI Joes and Andy hacking images of men kissing into violent video games, this movie might just put an end to their personal involvement in any future actions.