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The Untold Story of Latinos in America

By Jim Carey

Crossing the tracks on the way to Trinidad or Otomi, you often encounter men, women, and children traveling north from Central America. Many of these travelers wind up in the United States’ immigration detention centers—which the American Civil Liberties Union calls a privatized “system that exposes detainees to brutal and inhumane conditions of confinement at massive costs” to American taxpayers. “This ‘lock ’em up’ approach to detention is contrary to common sense and our fundamental values,” says the ACLU’s website. “In America, liberty should be the norm for everyone—and detention the last resort.”

Most of these families and children are fleeing from three Central American countries: El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. To understand why these immigrants take this treacherous journey, Occupy SMA will look at the history of Latinos fleeing from their countries on Monday April 16.

Harvest of Empire is a fresh look at the role that US economic, military, and corporate interests played in triggering the waves of migration that have transformed our nation’s cultural and economic landscape, from the wars for territorial expansion that gave the US control of Puerto Rico, Cuba, and more than half of Mexico to the covert operations that imposed oppressive military regimes in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. From 1947 until the present, over 100,000 soldiers from Colombia, Mexico, El Salvador, and other Latin American countries were trained at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia (renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation in 2001). Human Rights Watch and other groups have accused these troops of numerous human rights abuses. In 1984, Panamanian president Jorge Illueca called the School of the Americas the “biggest base for destabilization in Latin America.”

The film unveils a moving human story that is largely unknown to the great majority of citizens in the US. “They never teach us in school that the huge Latino presence in the United States is a direct result of our own government’s actions in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America over many decades—actions that forced millions from that region to leave their homeland and journey north,” says Democracy Now! journalist Juan González at the beginning of the film.

Five million Puerto Ricans live in the mainland US. In addition, there are 1.1 million Guatemalans, 1.95 million Cubans; 1.5 million Dominicans, 500,000 Nicaraguans; 2 million Salvadorans, 635,000 Hondurans, and 34 million Mexicans. By the end of this century, the majority of people residing in the US will be from Latin American countries.

The film provides a rare and powerful glimpse into the enormous sacrifices and rarely-noted triumphs of our nation’s growing Latino community. It features present-day immigrant stories and rarely seen archival material. The filmmakers tell their story with a deep underlying conviction that once Americans have accurate facts, “they rarely allow injustices to stand.” Join us. The film will be followed by a discussion. There is no charge.

 

Film and Discussion

Occupy SMA presents

Harvest of Empire: The Untold Story of Latinos in America.

Mon, Apr 16, 1pm

Quinta Loreto Hotel

TV room,

Loreto 15

Free

 

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