Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Toronto Film Festival: Genocide in Chihuahua, Mexico

Yaqui for Borderland Beat from: Proceso
     "El Guardián de la Memoria" made a Toronto Film Festival called "Int'l Spectrum of Hot Docs"

A spooky portrait of the violence by the failed war against drugs that Felipe Calderón imposed in his presidential term, Marcela Arteaga's documentary "The Guardian of Memory" arrives at the International Spectrum of the Hot Docs Festival in Toronto to show how the Chihuahuan town of Guadalupe was decimated after the looting of the federal military force. The tape contains testimonies of the victims, as well as the well known humanist lawyer Carlos Spector in Texas.             

Guadalupe, Chihuahua, "it was a small town and very beautiful, maybe very earthy, but everything was peaceful", however, since March 2008 when federal, ministerial and army police broke out due to the Joint Operative Chihuahua (promoted by the then President Felipe Calderón), " people began to appear dead, then disappeared, then began extortion and threats."

For this reason, entire families who were murdered by relatives left the place and many asked for political asylum in the United States, where they have also faced harassment.

All of this is related by nine victims of Guadalupe in Marcela Arteaga's documentary: "El Guardián de la Memoria", where Carlos Spector, immigration lawyer in Texas, also tells how and why he initiated his work about this genocide (as he directly calls it) in Guadalupe, where in 2008 there were 17,000 inhabitants and today there are only 1,000. 
                                            Guadalupe, Chihuahua: nearly a ghost town
The film, produced by Fabian Hofman, is part of the official International Spectrum selection of the Hot Docs Festival of Toronto, which began on April 25 and ended on May 5. The first exhibition of "The Guardian of Memory" was  Sunday April 28; the second on Tuesday the 30th and the third on Saturday the 4th of May.

"Hot Docs" stands out as the largest documentary gathering in North America, offering a selection of more than 200 films from Canada and around the world for an audience of more than 200,000 people in Toronto this year. 

In the THX room of Churubusco Studios, after a special screening of the 93-minute film, Marcela Arteaga talks with Proceso that the documentary emerged after "the absolute impotence and indignation I felt about the situation in the country." 

She met lawyer Carlos Spector in El Paso, Texas, in 2014, with a community of Mexicans who discussed immigration issues and there he was, who is the one who has won the most political asylum cases of Mexicans.

"I approached Carlos and all these people he has helped, it was heartbreaking and oppressing to hear what they have experienced. Once stuck in that there is no way to close your eyes, or say: ''Nothing is happening here or thank you very kindly for having told me that, I'm going home ," she stated.

The Mexican filmmaker began to investigate in 2014 about Guadalupe, Chihuahua, and finished the project last January.

A victim of Guadalupe highlights in the documentary:
"It was reported in the news that the federal government had started a fight against drug trafficking and we thought that the authorities coming from Mexico City came to fight organized crime and protect civilians, but no!! We started to realize that the federal police were murdering municipal police, and we said 'what's wrong?'' The Mexican army arrived, the national guard, with some terrible convoys, and many soldiers as if we were at war. That is when then here things got ugly.

"The soldier and the federal police began a hunt against the civilian population. They searched houses and took away televisions and computers. They robbed the population. The people seized a total distrust of all the authorities, all of them! We managed to understand that there was a dispute over the Plaza, but we did not know if it was organized crime or the authorities."

"Carlos Spector specifies that it was a genocide and refers to the authorized crime, what do you think?"  -The director is asked and also scriptwriter of the project. 

" Here the word genocide does not exist ... We speak of violence, but not of genocide."

In Guadalupe there is the wall and the road and nothing else, and there were 3,000 soldiers on that road; It was a ''mouse trap'', there is no way to get in or out of there if the military or any authority that a person does not know. And what Martin says in the tape is that in Guadalupe only had six local policemen with a weapon and that for each weapon they had nothing but three bullets. They could not ask for more, because it would take them 5 years to arrive and they could not buy them, because then they would violate the law, and that legislation was not changed when the war against drug trafficking began.
"When Carlos Spector relates that it is a crime authorized by the State and exploited by employers and cartels, it seems coherent. That is, it is nothing more than "business as usual" , ie drugs, the cartel or organized crime, but it was a much larger situation. "

The lawyer tells in the feature film, which won the awards Gabriel García Márquez Stimulus (IMCINE) Project Development, Chicken and Egg Pictures 2017 and the Fourth Impulse Morelia post-production studies Churubusco Azteca, about a woman and a man who with a gun in hand threatened him in front of his office:

"They told me I had many cases and that I was a criminal! I thought: ''Do I attack the Mexican Army and a then criminal comes to threaten me? How is that?''  That is the authorized crime.

"When there is uncontrolled violence, a systematic genocide against a people, it requires the cooperation of many sectors of society with different interests. 

"There is a series of binational mega projects. On one side is the oil that goes from Texas through the pipeline to Chihuahua, and for years they had already planned the construction of the largest bridge in the world and the US-Mexico border that is the International Bridge Tornillo Guadalupe, plus the construction of a Samalayuca road, bringing people from Ciudad Juárez to Guadalupe."

Consider that the challenge of these elements is only the economic development of the Juarez Valley:

"That explains why the criminals of the La Línea group, who worked for the Juarez Cartel and those in Sinaloa, burned the businesses. Or that from one day to the next they arrived and they said: ''You must go!''  
                                                          Who are these masked men ?
"Initially we thought it was because of the government narrative: ''It's a row between drug traffickers''. And it was not a quarrel between drug traffickers, it was a fight and a fight for territory, an economic development for the few! I do not think there was a board of criminals and businessmen, from 'you do this and we do this'. But it suited them. And impunity allows all that. Impunity is the politics of violence.

"It is an authorized crime where the State and the businessmen have allowed, through impunity, the control of the people by the criminals and for them, what does it matter if they are robbing or killing people, in the end they will run. "
Bodies in the desert:
Arteaga, who studied at the Cinematographic Training Center, filmed in Guadalupe in 2016. It shows the houses destroyed. To enter the town, she got someone to protect her small film crew with Spector. 

The director  mentioned that the stories of the level of violence towards civilians are shocking in "The Guardian of Memory".  His feeling is asked to check there that violence without mercy and everyday, and stresses:

"It impelled me to think that this can not continue happening, that we should not remain silent, that we should do something. In my case, I hope the cinema works because this can not continue. It can not be that the children of someone who goes to the park are taken away by the police and never appear again. The mother looks for her child for 17 days and begs and prays for him to be delivered and returned even if dead. What goes through the head of a policeman who takes two young people and kills them? Carlos is absolutely right: Impunity is the politics of violence. "

In the film, Mrs. Rosi narrates that before the violence in Guadalupe, she proposed to her children to get out of there, but they did not want to:

"They told me: This is our house, it's our life, we're not doing anything wrong'', and we chose to stay.

My two children went to the park with an ATV. Troops of policemen came wanting them out of the park. A neighbor told me that they had been taken away and gave me the number of the patrols. We started looking for them and nothing, nowhere they presented them. I showed the number of patrols to a policeman at a bank who knew me and told me they were from the Delta Group. A federal policeman told me to go to the office of the public prosecutor to file a complaint of enforced disappearance, abuse of authority and vehicle theft, as long as I did not say who advised me. I went and nobody paid attention to me. " 

She saw the media tell the disappearance, a girl from the prosecutor's office took the statement and told him to leave because he was in danger. She spent 17 days looking for his children.

Their bodies were found in the desert.
Ideological cleansing:
The lawyer recalls that in 2008, the Army harassed first the reporter Emilio Gutiérrez of El Diario de Noroeste in Chihuahua, and that at the same time arrested Cipriana Jurado, a human rights activist: 

"It was an ideological cleansing. The enemy of the Army were the activists and the press. People who filed a complaint or a complaint or a protest of the abuses, were harassed. The people in mass left by the violence. They asked for asylum in the US and 85% of the cases are from Guadalupe. It is a new purely political migration. They ask for asylum on the bridge, Authorities insult them, they send them to the "migra" (USBP) and then they detain them for three months. "

Their chances of obtaining asylum in the United States are minimal: 98% of asylum cases for Mexicans are denied.

Another of the interviewed by the filmmaker, talks:
"Unfortunately in the United States our second hell begins. They moved me from El Paso, Texas to Sierra Blanca, to a federal prison; there they gave us food and we were treated and suffered as prisoners. I thought: ''I am serving a sentence for coming to ask for help or protection.''  Carlos told me that we  had to sue in US federal court because they were violating their own laws, they can not have a person in custody for more than six months. In December 2015, we beat them, but then they put a bracelet on my foot. "

- What do you think about the mistreatment of Mexicans who ask for political asylum in the neighboring country to the north? - Arteaga is again interrogated, also director of "Recuerdos", a documentary supported by the Rockefeller Foundation.

- This situation of Mexicans asking for asylum who are mistreated by the two States,  ( Mexico and the US) is not known in Mexico. When they left for the United States, former Governor César Duarte told everyone that they were traitors for leaving the country. And they also arrive in the United States and are treated like criminals, look a-likes, they are imprisoned for a long time and we do not have medical insurance or work permits.

Martín emphasizes on the screen:
"I left Mexico to denounce the violence. Asylum is not a fashion or a luxury, it is the last ticket of a human being for life and to keep fighting. "

Marcela Arteaga distrusts the National Guard proposed by President López Obrador:
"From the beginning I was absolutely skeptical of all the stories I heard, especially when Amnesty International said: ''No to the National Guard''.  They know what they are talking about. The truth is I'm very skeptical, but on the other hand we have no other than the benefit of the doubt because if not, what do we do? I hope it works. "

She remembers when her film was accepted to Hot Docs Festival and it was selected:

"First , I am super happy because I always think that everything is wrong and it is horrible, that nobody is going to like it; ( ie, her film) but having accepted it at this film festival means that it is not bad. What can happen in Canada? I hope it is seen not as a local problem, but as a problem to begin with in the North American region, in the context of the bigger picture. We now have this humanitarian crisis in our two borders and they ( the Canadians) are not oblivious to this. 

"The film on the one hand leaves me a lot of hopelessness, because the stories as we hear them here are only half of what they really are, they do not get the story in their clips; but Rosi's story in the film is tremendous. "

Actually, they all are, the films, ie ; and Arteaga ends by saying:
"On the other hand it also gives me hope because the interviewees have the feeling that if this is known, then the dead and the disappeared will not be forgotten."

"As an artist I can say that in every empty house, in every personal object left behind, there is a bigger story that can not be forgotten.

"More than another movie of the drug cartels in Mexico, is a story about the kindness and hope that still exists in people who went through hell. Of the tireless struggle of Carlos Spector to preserve the memory and as he says: ''Exiled, but not forgotten''. Being so close to someone who has been through such terrible things does not allow you to close your eyes again. Now I feel more guilty. What I want with the movie is that if you did not know, you know now and if you forgot, you will remember. "     

Alfredo Holguín, from Guadalupe, stands out sadly in the film:

"It is a national shame that we Mexicans having a land, a homeland, yet we have to go elsewhere to look for what every human being has a right to : a land, a nation, an identity. It's a shame to have to come and talk to an officer from another country, authorities in my country did not treat me well. What has been extorted from me,  in my own country they killed my son. It's a shame to have to admit that in my country I did not have the opportunities."  


  1. So its Felipe fault?????

    1. ya lol...its the fault of the guy who tried to put a stop to it. The liberals always need someone else to blame besides the actual criminals who are doing all the killing.

    2. Yes for selling out mexicos resources and kissing foreigners ass, like always in mexicos histroy with presidents.

    3. Felipe de Jesus Calderon Hinojosa, better known as FECAL, agreed to carry on with his marchin' orders: war ON drugs...
      "Here's three billion dollars, courtesy of the US taxpayer, in weapons, helicopters, trucks, squad cars and mercenaries"
      Loaded with the "more professional Mexican marinas" that resulted worse than the army and deadlier. Unleashed by operation Mayan Jaguar since other presidents of the US and Mexico and other governor of Chihuahua was there while Cesar Duarte worked the fine edges of his "Operacion Make Cesar Duarte Rich".
      We have seen the results all over Mexico with corrupt states attorneys and governors allied with drug traffickers or their whole Cartels, and now under AMLO, his secretary of defense Luis Crescencio Sandoval Gonzalez is claiming that the Guarida Nacional is goin' to do it right this time, but could not before because "the polesias did not help" or got on the way or would not assist, or shit"... Ginir Sandoval was in charge of the melitary zone that had under its command the prison of Piedras Negras when the zetas were disappearing people there, burying some (in the prison yard), cooking some, and eating the tastier looking ones, with zetas crawling out of his melitary ass... Not for nothing giniral Cienpedos said of him "excellent choice".
      FECAL is not the only guilty party, there is Obama, Hillary, their foreign policy ministers, that received the BS already cooked with a bow from the Bush dynasty after Mayan Jaguar, and fox and Duarte and his predecessor, and the military zone commanders in Chihuahua because FECAL is a religious person that wouldn't dare or his secretary of defense Giniral Galvan...
      The powerful one on each area did benefit from the rigmarole, Don't tell me the buck stops with one guy or one municipal cuico, or the Linea/state police and their houses of death in Cd Juarez in cahoots with El paso and other Tejas ICE, DEA, CIA, and the Johnny Sutton cover up, or the trumped up accusations against Sandy Gonzalez for whistle blowing, right from the top of the US government. Thanks for asking and for one more beautiful report.

    4. It's the currupted government fault. As long as thier is inpunity innocent people, pheasants will die.

    5. At 256... your tin foil cap conspiracy theories are getting old.

    6. The guilty party always claiming innocence or ignorance,
      Nothing new, but Don't ask "IF FECAL DID IT" Because he had plenty of help.

    7. 6:26 you are lucky,
      we are not posting the "War And Peace" by Leo Tolstoy.

  2. Ive commented before this is genocide or ethnic cleansing. Its makes sense to me. Piles and piles of dead butchered MOSTLY of lower income(poor).

    1. ADOBE is such a luxurious architectural style...
      It is a pity Guadalupe millionaires had to be the experimental pigs that got murdered and made to run away to test the war ON drugs program, and that making them escape was not good enough.

  3. Disagree with this atrocity being Felipe's fault. Many are at fault here. No sole responsibility is merited for blame. Rather, policies that attributed to The War on Drugs. Along with those political agendas behind a mask.

    I will definitely be looking forward to see this film. Where truth is met with political consequences from what I gathered here.

    Must admit that when first reading this article; resemblance of US ghost towns where industries once thrived were being portrayed. Until the horrors came to light.


  4. Duarte calling them traitors for leaving their country?Isn't that something like the pot calling the kettle black?What did he himself do?

    1. Cesar Duarte has a lot of money and accomplices hidden on the US, he did not walk to the US unwanted, unwashed, sick or hungry, and I would bet he gets a professorship in Harvard or Yale or Stanfor' like FECAL and Zedillo's Fundillo...
      Duarte did not run away to Ireland, France or Italy like EPN, Salinas, or Yarrington either, every dog goes to their master.

  5. Entire towns have disappeared because of the Mexican Drug War

  6. Yet millions of Mexicans (especially Mexicans living under the umbrella of rights, opportunities and tolerance of the U.S.) scream, with pride and joy “Viva Mexico”. They’re easily triggered and enraged at any criticism of Mexico by anybody especially the hated gringo who they turn to for salvation and safety.

    Notice they couldn’t help but throw in a little criticism of the hated “migra Americana”, we spend billions providing asylum seekers with food, education, healthcare and legal representation only to have these ungrateful people spit in our face and compare their treatment to a new in Nazi germany like if it were their right to abuse our system and migrate at will.

  7. México will never change because of the goverment ther the real proablem no cartel can grown to be so strong with out the help of the goverment and l mean both goverment Mexican and USA .


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