Marie-Monique Robin

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Marie-Monique Robin in 2009.

Marie-Monique Robin (born 1960, Poitou-Charentes) is a French TV journalist and documentary filmmaker. She received the 1995 Albert Londres Prize for Voleurs d'yeux (1994), an expose about organ theft; best political documentary award from the French Senate for a 2003 film about the transfer of French counter-insurgency techniques (including torture) to Argentina; and the Rachel Carson Prize for her work on Monsanto.

Early life[edit]

Marie-Monique Robin was born in 1960 and grew up in the Deux-Sèvres, where her parents were farmers.[1] She studied political science at the University of Saarbrücken and graduated from university teaching journalism center of the University of Strasbourg.[citation needed]


After studying journalism in Strasbourg, she worked with France 3 for a time. She went to Nicaragua and worked in South America as a freelance reporter.[1] She traveled to South America more than 80 times, including 30 times to Cuba.[citation needed] She reported on the Colombian guerrillas, and later worked for CAPA news agency.[1]

Voleurs d'yeux[edit]

Voleurs d'yeux (Eye Thieves), 1994, was the name of a book and a film based on it, related to her investigations of organ theft. After her film was shown at the United Nations, the USIA spokesman said that it was a lie. She was subjected to various pressures and personal attacks, but the following year in 1995, she was awarded the Albert Londres prize for her film. However, the concession was suspended while the jury studied alegations of falsehoods after French physicians discovered that one of the kids whose corneas the film said has been stolen still had them. After months of discussions, the commission decided to ratify the concession because they didn't find "bad faith".[2]

Marie-Monique Robin subsequently quit CAPA to work freelance. She is doing a report on Cuba for Thalassa, a French television program. Another project is exploring the rise in false allegations of pedophilia being made against teachers.

Escadrons de la mort, l'école française[edit]

Based on a book she was developing, Robin made a 2003 film documentary titled Escadrons de la mort, l'école française (The Death Squads: The French School) that investigated ties between the French secret services and their Argentine and Chilean counterparts. Specifically, she documented that the French counter-insurgency tactics used during the Algerian War (1954–62), including extensive use of torture, were taught to Argentine security forces. The security forces later used them during the Dirty War (1976-1983) and for Operation Condor. She received an award for "best political documentary of the year" by the French Senate in 2003 in recognition of her work.[3]

Her book on the death squads was published in 2004. Robin claimed that the French military officials had taught Argentine counterparts counter-insurgency tactics, including the systematic use of torture as they had used it during the Algerian War. She documented a 1959 agreement between Paris and Buenos Aires that created a "permanent French military mission", formed of French army personnel who had fought in the Algerian War (1954–62). The mission was located in the offices of the chief of staff of the Argentine Army. Robin said in an August 2003 interview in L'Humanité:

"[the] French have systematized a military technique in urban environment which would be copied and pasted to Latin American dictatorships".[4]

Roger Trinquier was a French theorist of counter-insurgency who legitimized the use of torture. His noted book on counter-insurgency, Modern Warfare: A French View of Counterinsurgency, had a strong influence in South America and elsewhere, including in the School of the Americas. Trinquier was a member of the Cité catholique fundamentalist group. It recruited many former members of the OAS pro-"French Algeria" terrorist group and opened a subsidiary in Argentina near the end of the 1950s. It had an important role in teaching ESMA Navy officers counter-insurgency techniques, including the systematic use of torture and ideological support.[4]

In a related issue that Robin documented, Manuel Contreras, the head of Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional (DINA) had told Robin that the Direction de surveillance du territoire (DST) French intelligence agency had told the Chilean secret police the names of refugees who had returned to Chile from France (Operation Retorno). All of these Chileans were killed. "Of course, this puts in cause the French government, and Giscard d'Estaing, then President of the Republic. I was very shocked by the duplicity of the French diplomatic position which, on one hand, received with open arms the political refugees, and, on the other hand, collaborated with the dictatorships."[4]

General Paul Aussaresses taught the US Army these tactics, which it used during the Vietnam War. Robin showed how Valéry Giscard d'Estaing's government secretly collaborated with the Videla's junta in Argentine and with the Augusto Pinochet's regime in Chile, while openly receiving at the same time many political refugees who were granted the right of asylum. Citing Roger Faligot, a French journalist and expert on Ireland, Marie-Monique Robin also noted that General Frank Kitson's book, Low Intensity Operations: Subversion, Insurgency and Peacekeeping, had become the "Bible" used by the British Army during The Troubles in Northern Ireland and that it quoted heavily from Trinquier.

Algerian Civil War[edit]

At the conclusion of her book, she cites the 2003 report, Algérie, la machine de mort, by Algeria-Watch, which stated:

To conserve their power and their fortunes nurtured by corruption, those who have been called the généraux janviéristes (Generals of January) — Generals Larbi Belkheir, Khaled Nezzar, Mohamed Lamari, Mohamed Mediène, Smaïl Lamari, Kamal Abderrahmane and several others — did not hesitate in triggering against their people a savage repression, using, at an unprecedented scale in the history of civil wars of the second half of the 20th century, the "secret war" techniques theorized by certain French officers during the Algerian War for Independence, from 1954 to 1962: death squads, systemic torture, kidnapping and disappearances, manipulation of the violence of opponents, disinformation and "psychological action, etc.[5]

Citing Lounis Aggoun and Jean-Baptiste Rivoire, Françalgérie. Crimes et mensonges d'État (2004),[6] Marie-Monique Robin refers to false flag attacks committed by Algerian death squads formed by secret agents disguised as Islamist terrorists, including the OJAL created by the DRS security services and the OSSRA (Organisation secrète de sauvegarde de la République algérienne, Secret Organisation of Safeguard of the Algerian Republic), which recalled "the French Main rouge", a terrorist group during the 1960s which may have been constituted by French secret services, "or the Argentine Triple A":

After having liquidated dozens of opponents, posing as anti-Islamist civilians, these pseudo-organisations disappeared in mid-1994. Because at the same moment, the leaders of the DRS chose the widespread deployment and action of death squads also composed of their men, but posing as Islamist terrorists.[7]

The Battle of Algiers[edit]

In 1997, 35 years after the end of the Algerian War, Robin interviewed two Argentine navy cadets from the ESMA, noted as a center of counter-insurgency during the Dirty War. They had seen a screening of The Battle of Algiers (1966), the film by Gillo Pontecorvo, at the military school. When the film was first released, several years after the end of the war, it had been censored in France for its portrayal of the French effort.

The cadets said the screening was introduced by Antonio Caggiano, who had been archbishop of Buenos Aires from 1959 to 1975, when President Arturo Frondizi had inaugurated the first course on counter-revolutionary warfare at the Higher Military College. Caggiano, the military chaplain at the school in 1997, had introduced The Battle of Algiers approvingly and added a religiously oriented commentary.[8] Anibal Acosta, one of the cadets interviewed by Robin, described the session:

"They showed us that film to prepare us for a kind of war very different from the regular war we had entered the Navy School for. They were preparing us for police missions against the civilian population, who became our new enemy."[8]

Robin noted that United States Pentagon officials involved in "special operations" viewed Pontecorvo's film on 27 August 2003.[9][10] This was several months after the US had invaded Iraq, and it was encountering rising insurgency in Baghdad and other areas.

Official responses to Robin's film[edit]

After seeing Robin's film, on 10 September 2003 French Green Party deputies Noël Mamère, Martine Billard and Yves Cochet formally requested that a parliamentary commission be established on the "role of France in the support of military regimes in Latin America from 1973 to 1984" before the Foreign Affairs Commission of the National Assembly. Apart from coverage by Le Monde, newspapers in France were silent about this request.[11]

Deputy Roland Blum, in charge of the Commission, refused to allow Robin to testify. In December 2003 the Commission published a 12-page report which was described by Robin as "the summum of bad faith".[citation needed] The paper claimed that no agreement had been signed between France and Argentina or other Latin American countries, although Robin had found the document at the Quai d'Orsay[12] [13]

When Minister of Foreign Affairs Dominique de Villepin traveled to Chile in February 2004, he said that no cooperation between France and the military regimes had occurred.[14]

Le monde selon Monsanto (The World According to Monsanto)[edit]

In March 2008, her documentary about the Monsanto Company, The World According to Monsanto, was aired on the Arte network in France and Germany.[15] It was a co-production of Arte and the National Film Board of Canada.[16][17]

The movie explores Monsanto, the major United States chemical manufacturing firm based in St. Louis, Missouri. With offices and plants in 46 countries, Monsanto has become the world leader in GMO (genetically modified organisms) (it has more than 90% of the market share.) The firm also has produced PCBs (such as pyralene), herbicides (such as Agent Orange during the Malayan Emergency and the Vietnam War) and the recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), used to increase milk production in cows. Europe has prohibited the use of rBGH in its dairy cattle and milk production.

The documentary explains that, since its creation in 1901, the firm has been the subject of numerous lawsuits for environmental contamination while promoting itself today as a "life sciences" company, committed to sustainable development. In her study, Robin suggests that Monsanto made efforts to win support in the sciences and regulatory spheres in order to sell its GMOs internationally.[citation needed] [18] Translated into 16 languages, the movie and her related book have found wide international audiences. In France the documentary was released at a time when the debate about GMOs divided the political class and researchers; the majority of residents was opposed to their use.

This film earned the following prizes: the Rachel Carson Prize (Norway), the Umwelt-Medienpreis prize (Germany), and the Ekofilm Festival of Cesky Kumlov (Czech Republic, 2009).[citation needed]

Torture Made in USA[edit]

Torture Made in USA is a documentary by Marie-Monique Robin released in 2009.

Our Daily Poison[edit]

A book was released in 2011, having the theme of red meat being a poison, exploring the links between consumption of red meat and cancer.[19]

Crops of the Future[edit]

On October 16, 2012 on World Food Day, the third chapter of her trilogy on foods (after The World According to Monsanto in 2008 and Our Daily Poison in 2011), Crops of the Future - How to feed the world in 2050? was shown on Arte a Franco/German TV channel. It describes farmer-led alternatives for food, farming and land use.[citation needed]

Sacrée Croissance![edit]

Sacree Croissance!, or Sacred Growth! (or Damned Growth) in English is a 2014 documentary by Marie-Monique Robin and aired by French-German channel ArtePage text.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Marie-Monique Robin, grand reporter sous pressions médiatiques". L'Humanité. September 21, 2002. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  2. ^ Le Monde, 22 mars 1996, Le prix Albert-Londres est confirmé pour le reportage " Voleurs d'yeux "
  3. ^ Review: Escadrons de la mort, l'école française, Algeria Watch
  4. ^ a b c "L'exportation de la torture": interview with Marie-Monique Robin, L'Humanité, 30 August 2003 (French)
  5. ^ "Pour conserver leur pouvoir et leurs fortunes nourries par la corruption, ceux que l'on a appelés les généraux "janviéristes" - les généraux Larbi Belkheir, Khaled Nezzar, Mohamed Lamari, Mohamed Médiène, Smaïl Lamari, Kamel Abderrahmane et quelques autres - n'ont pas hésité à déchaîner contre leur peuple une répression sauvage, utilisant, à une échelle sans précédent dans l'histoire des guerres civiles de la seconde moitié du xxe siècle, les techniques de "guerre secrète" théorisées par certains officiers français au cours de la guerre d'indépendance algérienne, de 1954 à 1962 : escadrons de la mort, torture systématique, enlèvements et disparitions, manipulation de la violence des opposants, désinformation et "action psychologique", etc." (French)
  6. ^ Lounis Aggoun and Jean-Baptiste Rivoire, Françalgérie. Crimes et mensonges d'État, La Découverte, Paris, 2004
  7. ^ À l'instar de la " Main rouge " française ou de la Triple A argentine, ils ont certes créé, fin 1993, l'Organisation des jeunes Algériens libres (OJAL) et l'OSSRA (Organisation secrète de sauvegarde de la République algérienne) : il s'agissait, purement et simplement, de commandos constitués d'hommes de la police politique du régime, le sinistre DRS. Après avoir liquidé des dizaines d'opposants, en se faisant passer pour des civils anti-islamistes, ces pseudo-organisations disparaîtront à la mi-1994. Car au même moment, les chefs du DRS ont préféré généraliser le déploiement et l'action d'escadrons de la mort également composés de leurs hommes, mais se faisant passer pour des terroristes islamistes.(French)
  8. ^ a b Horacio Verbitsky, "Breaking the silence: the Catholic Church and the 'Dirty war'", 28 July 2005, extract from El Silencio transl. in English by openDemocracy
  9. ^ La direction des opérations spéciales du Pentagone organise une projection de La Bataille d'Alger, Le Monde, 9 September 2003 (French)
  10. ^ "The Pentagon's Lessons From Reel Life - 'Battle of Algiers' Resonates in Baghdad", The Washington Post, 4 September 2003 (English)
  11. ^ "MM. Giscard d'Estaing et Messmer pourraient être entendus sur l'aide aux dictatures sud-américaines", Le Monde, 25 September 2003 (French)
  12. ^ Série B. Amérique 1952-1963. Sous-série : Argentine, n° 74. Cotes: 18.6.1. mars 52-août 63
  13. ^ RAPPORT FAIT AU NOM DE LA COMMISSION DES AFFAIRES ÉTRANGÈRES SUR LA PROPOSITION DE RÉSOLUTION (n° 1060), tendant à la création d'une commission d'enquête sur le rôle de la France dans le soutien aux régimes militaires d'Amérique latine entre 1973 et 1984, PAR M. ROLAND BLUM, French National Assembly (French)
  14. ^ Argentine : M. de Villepin défend les firmes françaises, Le Monde, 5 February 2003 (French)
  15. ^ "The World According to Monsanto - A documentary that Americans won’t ever see", Wide Eye Cinema
  16. ^ NFB feature page
  17. ^ Film review: Le monde selon Monsanto, Montreal Mirror, 22 May 2008
  18. ^ Inrockuptibles, 4 March 2008
  19. ^
  20. ^


  • Voleurs d’organes. Enquête sur un trafic, Éditions Bayard.
  • Escadrons de la mort, l'école française, de Marie-Monique Robin. 453 pages. La Découverte (15 September 2004). Collection : Cahiers libres. (ISBN 2707141631)
  • Los Escuadrones De La Muerte / The Death Squads, de Marie-Monique Robin. 539 pages. Sudamericana (October 2005). (ISBN 950072684X) (Presentation)
  • Les 100 photos du siècle (Le Chêne/Taschen)
  • Le sixième sens, science et paranormal (Le Chêne).
  • Le Monde selon Monsanto, coédition ARTE éditions / La Découverte 2008 (ISBN 9782847344660). (Presentation)

External links[edit]