The most publicized human rights violations have occurred overseas, far from the American media influence; but a New York director believes even greater problems are occurring just south of the U.S. border.
Charlie Minn, who directed “A Nightmare in Las Cruces,” has brought the Mexico drug cartel violence to the big screen in his latest documentary, “8 Murders a Day.”
Specifically, the target of the film is the violence in Juarez, which at its peak at the end of 2010 reached an average of eight murders every day.
"I don’t think people today have a grip on what’s going on. It’s barbaric,” he said. “In my opinion, it’s the greatest human rights disaster today."Minn said he began the project in 2009, when he acquired contacts in nearby Las Cruces, N.M., while making the documentary about the bowling alley massacre in the town.
The why, how and aftermath of the drug-related killings “grabbed” him as he was working on his other project, he said, and ultimately convinced him to create this documentary.
Minn said although the violence is mainly between the cartels waging war, many innocent people are murdered in the course of those wars.
But he said that, despite a lack of commitment from the United States, he believes the situation deserves shared responsibility between the Mexican and U.S. governments.
The film has not yet shown in Washington, D.C., but Minn said he hopes to catch the eyes of enough people and high-ranking officials who can do something about the violence.
"(I want) enough of a reaction that’s going to pressure the White House into taking an active role."Because of the large Hispanic community in Odessa and relative proximity to the border, Minn said he hopes people will see the movie. Despite being so close he said most still do not know the true extent of the violence.
Art Leal, president of Una Voz Unida in Odessa, said he believes most people of Mexican descent in the area have a good handle of what is going on in Juarez, and if they want to find out more, several news sources cover the drug war well.
However, he said if those same people have not become educated on the conflict, they should go see the movie.
“Sometimes it’s hard to not look away from it,” he said. “They don’t want to accept that that’s really going on in our neighboring country.”
Leal said he traveled regularly to Juarez for dentist appointments, but he has not gone in the last two years because of the increased violence.
The film has already played in Laredo, Houston and Dallas, as well as out-of-state markets New York, San Diego and Chicago.
Minn said although violence has gone down in recent weeks because a leader of one of the cartels was killed, he believes it will spike again when the cartel becomes reorganized.
He’s even planning a sequel, called “The Murder Capital of the World,” that will focus on an update and the possible ramifications of a new president in the country in 2012.
The film begins at 11:45 a.m. Friday at Hollywood Theaters in Music City Mall and will run for several weeks, as long as people are still coming to watch it, Minn said.