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Harvest of Empire cover photo

Harvest of Empire 2012


Distributed by EVS Communications, 2800 Quebec Street, N.W., Suite 1215, Washington, D.C. 20008; 202-966-6872
Produced by Onyx Films., EVS Communications, Loquito Productions, Getzels Gordon Productions
Directed by Peter Getzels & Eduardo Lopez
DVD , color, 88 min.

General Adult
Discrimination, Geography, Government, Hispanic Americans, Human Rights, Immigration, Latin Americans, Latinos (United States), Military, Postcolonialism, Poverty, U.S. History, United States Foreign Relations, War

Date Entered: 07/11/2013

ALA Notable: yes
Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

By mid-century, the racial and ethnic composition of the United States will look very different than it does today. Projections by both federal and state governments as well as independent research centers such as Pew indicate that by 2050, nearly one-third of the population will be Hispanic in origin. Immigration, both sanctioned and unauthorized, is the key driver of this change. How, and more importantly, why will so many people from Latin and Central America leave homes, families and cultures to come to these shores? The answer is both complex and tragic, and one that few Americans know or understand.

According to the makers of this thought-provoking film, the largest numbers of Latino immigrants are from countries that the U.S., through a long history of overt and covert military and economic activities, deliberately destabilized. While most come seeking a better life, many are refugees, leaving behind brutally repressive political regimes put in place by the American government largely to protect corporate interests. As one interviewee says, these people are not emigrating, they are fleeing.

The film is based on a book of the same title by Democracy Now! journalist Juan González and consists of numerous conversations, immigration stories and interviews with both well-known and ordinary people, along with archival footage, some of it disturbingly graphic. It focuses on seven countries in Central America and the Caribbean that have perhaps felt the greatest impact of U.S. imperial determinism in the region. Puerto Rico, Mexico, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic are each briefly profiled. Although the history of each nation is different, a pattern of poverty, exploitation, instability, violence, and finally desperation are common themes throughout.

Bonus features include 2 poems read by Martín Espada, extended commentary and deleted interviews. This is a film with a definite message but a well-produced and educational one that expands on a deeply divisive topic in U.S. society. The stories of Latino immigration are ones that must be told, regardless of how difficult they are to hear, see and acknowledge.