FAQs about Colonia Perdida
First visit? Check out the film, Colonia Perdida, on Vimeo!
As we begin to present and pass around the final video we produced about Lomas del Poleo, a number of questions arise from audiences and given that not everyone is able to attend a physical presentation, we’d like to post some consolidated answers to “FAQs” here. Also, as always, we welcome any comments or questions not addressed here at our email account, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some quick links on this site, if this is your first time visiting!
What is happening now in Lomas del Poleo?
The two best sources of information that are updated very frequently about Lomas are their Facebook page (primarily in Spanish) and another WordPress blog with news and updates called Lomas del Poleo (primarily in English). Also, especially if you are a student, please consider joining our Facebook page, Students in Solidarity with Lomas del Poleo!
Why, exactly, is this violence happening? Why is there a land dispute?
In recent years, a plan emerged (devised mostly by bi-national business leaders, including the Zaragozas) to build an international bridge that would link New Mexico with the land which is now Lomas del Poleo. Given the amount of foot traffic that occurs in these ports of entry, this development meant that the land which was once on the outskirts became incredibly valuable. The Zaragozas historically owned a piece of land nearby, and with the announcement of the new port of entry, began to aggressively make claims that Lomas del Poleo was also their land. That was in 2003. Since then, given that the legal systems of Mexico have been unable to resolve the land dispute, the Zaragozas have used violence, bribery, and have even sat down to negotiate briefly with the residents before backing out of the peaceful discussion to resort to further violence (that was earlier in 2011). Even completely disregarding maps that say that Lomas del Poleo is national land, and therefore legally belongs to those residents who have peacefully occupied it for 5 or more years according to Mexican land law — one must wonder why the Zaragozas would resort to extrajudicial violence and offer to pay large sums for land that is truly, rightfully theirs.
Why didn’t you interview the Zaragoza family? There are two sides to this story.
On a practical level, getting in contact and interviewing the Zaragoza family would have been incredibly difficult given the current climate of Ciudad Juarez. More importantly, however, is that as documentary filmmakers we do not operate on the assumption that any situation only has two sides — rather, it has infinite perspectives. Moreover, finding the Truth is not best served by giving equal time in a given article, video, or other media to two “sides,” especially when one side already has enough unlimited resources to repeat and publish their version of events a million times over. Rather, a short video like this one serves to “equalize” the incredibly imbalanced version of events that already exists in the public sphere by focusing very intently on the community which has by all accounts been far less heard and acknowledged.
In short, it is not realistic to say that all versions of a story already have equal public exposure and therefore, in order to reflect the story accurately, our video too must give equal exposure to these perspectives. The world and its media, unfortunately, does not give 50/50 of its attention to incredibly wealthy, powerful families (after whom a port of entry is already named in Juarez) and to the farmers and children in Lomas del Poleo. It’s currently more like 99.9/0.1. Therefore, with our own limited resources to make it film, it is in greater service of finding Truth to sing that which is unsung.
Why did we get involved with Lomas del Poleo, as students from far-away Georgetown University?
There are a number of answers to this question. Most succinctly, we had the opportunity to do a short documentary on the border. We wanted to work with the people of Lomas because in a world that is suffused not only with violent crime but also silence and impunity, within the story of this colonia was a moment in which people were still persistently fighting for their basic rights as tenants and human beings. The story and subsequently the documentary are hard and no less saddening than the rest of the world — but the people’s response to the violence is a moving and important stand on the side of human dignity and fairness that deserves to be preserved. It is one of the few moments in recent Mexican history in which a community is not giving in to a prevailing atmosphere of impunity and at least naming and identifying the crimes as they occur.
Additionally, it is our view that the United States’ policies contribute heavily to many of the realities in Mexico, especially the drug-related violence now gripping the country, and therefore we have a responsibility to confront these realities. Even beyond this, we are neighbors and friends, and it is crucial to build collaborative, positive relationships between citizens of the U.S. and citizens of Mexico in order to counterbalance the unhealthy and often detrimental relationship of our governments. Thus, it was not a “favor” to do this video, but a gift and privilege from which we learned a great deal about what it means to build a good community.