|Index||7 reviews in total|
I was alarmed by Downey's comments. Part of the reason immigrants are coming to America is as a fallout to the policies of past US administrations. When Reagan invaded El Salvador and Honduras in the '80s, thousands were killed and displaced. They were trained by both the US armed forces and CIA to fight against their own people (taken from schools by force by the time they reached 12)and also offered green cards to become fighting machines against the Sandanistas. (This is happening now, with the US trying to recruit Mara Salvatruchas to fight in Iraq). Thanks to the rape of those two countries by the US, there is very little left to stay for. The beauty of these undocumented workers is that they come to the US to do just that: Work, hard. And - unlike Downey suggests - with no medical insurance. Not only do they prop up the US economy, they also pour millions into their own economies - something that the US should be doing to make up for the past. I really enjoyed this documentary. I hope it will remind all of those lucky enough not to be born in the barrio/ghetto/shanty-town, that unless we do something about it there will always be people willing to risk life and limb, just to be able to eat.
Wetback: The Undocumented Documentary is an excellent film by Arturo
Pereze Torres and Heather Haynes. It shows the issue of immigration
into the US from the side of the undocumented worker. We all know the
side of the vigilantes. All we have to do is watch anyone on Fox to get
that side. But, what do we really know about the other side. The
Smoking Gun's expose of A Million Little Pieces showed us that what we
think is true often isn't. Wetback shows us the poverty that drives
workers across our borders. Poverty that causes them to literally risk
life and limb to get something for their family. It also shows the
gains to the US and other American countries from the undocumented
workers in this country.
But, it is really all about survival. Survival is what drives them to travel thousands of miles, facing Mexican police and gangs that rob and rape them, and the Border Patrol and the vigilantes in the US. Survival - something many of us have never faced and, hopefully, will not face.
It is helpful to know the other side of the coin. I think it makes us a better person.
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Very illuminating documentary on the truth behind immigrants smuggling
themselves into the United States. Dispels a lot of the myths
perpetuated by right wing racists who disguise their thinly veiled
hatred of foreigners behind patriotism and vigilantism.
Several people are followed from Honduras, Guatemala, Ecuador and the other central American countries as they make the extremely dangerous trek to what they somewhat naively perceive as the "American Dream". These people brave limb amputating trains, dangerous rivers, racist and sadistic police to try and make it to the promised land. These people are incredibly brave. Every commonly believed truth is turned on its head, that these people are "thieves and rapists" and that they are a burden to the American economy, collecting benefits (and even voting, according to one redneck) and contributing nothing. The truth is the exact opposite, these people are merely trying to better their lives for themselves and their families in countries that are kept in abject poverty mostly due to American economic policies. We see it from both perspectives, the immigrants and the vigilantes and law enforcement trying to keep them out. It is revealed later in the film that the truth is that the immigrants work hard once they get in the united states, doing work that many Americans would not want to do, paying into social security (billions) and never collecting. They pay taxes on everything and receive little benefit from it. Another fascinating fact is that many central American countries have a 20% to 40% of their GNP come from money sent back from immigrant workers.
And finally, we see that "murderers and rapists" indeed do get in the country, yet these are psycho gangs given green cards by the U.S. in exchange for fighting the sandanistas! It's so fascinating that almost without fail, whatever the common perception about U.S. foreign policy (defenders of democracy, freedom) is almost invariably the exact opposite in reality.
Check out this documentary is you are curious about the truth.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What a revealing documentary about the journey of 'undocumented' migrant workers through Central America and Mexico in hopes of reaching Canada or the United States to 'live the American Dream.' No one ever said the dream belonged solely to United States' Americans. A good look at the dangers and difficulties that these people face-just trying to feed their families. This film highlights the catholic safe houses throughout Central America, Mexico, the United States, and Canada, and their rise in popularity since the inception of the WTO. This film reveals the dangers migrants face long before they get to the vigilante minutemen who patrol the border along with US and Mexican Border Patrols. From catching 'death trains' to Mexican gangs which rob and murder migrants on their way to the US and Canada from central American countries, the filmmakers take the viewer on a ride with brave people simply seeking a better life. An excellent companion documentary for this film is "Crossing Arizona."
The Death Train part of this documentary is the most evocative and is unforgettable. We see the people riding on the tank cars and feel their desperation. We meet lots of very raw, real people throughout this film. As a former Texan and current Californian, I feel I know much first hand but learned more than I expected. I got to feel the rivalries between Mexico and states to the south and feel some of this journey. When the cameras follow the people, rather than interview with subtitles, Wetback is at its best. The actual crossing of the Rio Grande is a tremendous visual moment. But the movie had too many talking heads, although they were real people and their comments appeared natural. I want to see more and be told less. It was like arriving 5 minutes after the action most of the time. I wondered about the camera crew, which carried on in old fashioned objective style, in which the cameraman is invisible. I would have preferred to know something about who was telling me this story. Lots of cops were quoted, albeit cops sensitive to the problem. We are never told who anyone is, such as the funny old white couple. The nerdy redneck from Arizona is a tragicomic figure, as raw as any in the film. He is, of course, disgusted when he finds hair gel and other signs the immigrants are human. The cinematography and camera angles were original, but I am not into that kind of thing too much. I recommend this film as a high quality production, with great people, but 97 minutes starts to be long after about 70 minutes.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I thought this was a good documentary because it focused on immigrants from other Central American countries and not Mexico. In the U.S. we hear mostly about Mexican immigrants crossing the border. It was interesting to follow the journey of the men from Honduras. And there were many likable protagonists in the documentary. I appreciated the periodic monologues from those "leads" (to the camera) about their situation. It was also helpful that the names of the countries were indicated on the images when they were crossing borders. One could see how easy it was to cross certain borders. The description of the methods that they used to get around in certain countries and to cross the Rio Grande was well done. I did not expect so much detail. The priest offered compelling commentary and one of his anecdotes was extremely moving. I knew that Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador were quite poor, but I did not realize that there were that many people making the long trek to try to get into the US because of lack of work. Overall the personal stories were very effective and the explanation of Mexico's role in this was explained well.
The problem with this documentary is it's very one-sided. They talk about the benefits of immigrants going into the US and give statistics, but they fail to give the stats on the negative impact of the immigrants. They talk about the taxes and social security they pay, but not about the money the US spends on the immigrants (health care, jobs lost, education, etc.). The fact of the matter is they are 'illegal' immigrants. I don't think the documentary once refers to them as 'illegal'. But it's not the illegal immigrants that should be to blame here; it's the corrupt governments of the countries they come from. The documentary brings up how the police in Mexico abuse these people, but it goes deeper than that. Why about the government who is supposed to be controlling the police force? Why doesn't the documentary go into that? And people put blame on the American people for wanting the illegal immigration to stop, and the government. Why should America have to support the illegal immigrants? The documentary doesn't talk about that. And there is a threat of terrorist coming in the same way. The only mention of that is from an American civilian guarding the boarder. I sympathize with the immigrants, but they are going in illegally and the blame should be placed more on the corrupt governments of their home countries...not the US. Because the documentary doesn't go deep enough into the reasons for the illegal immigration, I feel it's biased.
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