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The US-Mexico conspiracy

The Guardian of Memory
Regissør: Marcela Arteaga

MEXICO / USA / In Mexico, they violate human rights by ignoring the law. In the United States, they violate human rights by applying the law.


The Guardian of Memory addresses the Mexican state's startling support for the violence that ravages cities just south of the U.S. border across the Rio Grande in Texas. Arteaga documents the disturbing circumstances surrounding Donald Trump's populist MAGA (Make America Great Again) movement and the notion of a wall paid for by Mexico to keep desperate refugees out of the "wonderland" flowing with milk and honey.

It says something about the dignity of this movie that weaves images of abandoned assets along with painful stories of these people who must relate to America's ruthless immigration and asylum policy, that neither Trump's name nor politics is mentioned once.

The thoughtfully arranged family pictures, which are left with clothes, suitcases and children's toys, are used to choreograph a story of painful need.

Unrestrained violence. Arteaga's story unfolds around pioneering Mexican-American lawyer Carlos Spector, who has dedicated his life to those who have escaped murder and extortion, and to "missing" sons, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and other family members.

"Seeking asylum is neither a whim or a luxury; it is a person's last ticket to life – and to continue to fight," says one of Spector's clients – a Mexican city council member who fled after his local colleagues were systematically killed.

Together with his wife Sandra, Spector created the Mexicans in Exile fund to support Mexicans seeking political asylum in the United States. They fight for justice treatment of them north of the border, claiming that the two countries are involved in strengthening corruption and allowing the violence to flourish unhindered in Mexico. In addition, the rights of asylum seekers are being ignored in the United States.

“Seeking asylum is neither a whim or a luxury, it is a human being
the last ticket to life – and to continue to fight. ”Attorney Carlos Spector

"Impunity is not the result of violence," says Spector. "It's the policy of violence."

Mexican drug cartels are subcontractors in the unspoken state policy, which aims to clean the border towns of residents and prepare the areas for economic exploitation for the powerful with good political contacts. By using drug gangs to murder and intimidate, and federal security services to arrest and "remove" those who raise their voice against the violence, the Mexican government may appear to have clean flour in its bag.

The Americans, for their part, use a narrow interpretation of political asylum that excludes those who "only" flee from criminal violence, and immigration judges – who are largely former border guards – refuse the vast majority of asylum cases.

The Guardian of Memory Director Marcela Arteaga

"In Mexico, they are newcomers to corruption," says Spector. "They are breaking human rights by ignoring the law. In the United States, they violate human rights by applying the law. The law is a tool for suppression. "

There is, he adds, "a conspiracy between the two countries, they both benefit from hiding the violence."

An unpunished regime of violence. The human stories that are told in The Guardian of Memory, takes your breath away.

A mother – with two sons and their two friends taken by federal police, only to be found again, identified by her footwear in shallow deserts in the desert – tells the story from beginning to end, without losing her composure, until she reliving the moment when she saw her feet sticking out of the sand.

A young man walking in the desert dunes at dusk remembers the day his outspoken mother was murdered. "That day they killed my fears," he says. "Now I have nothing to fear anymore, since my only fear was that they would kill my mother."

The extent of the violence – Spector calls it a genocide – and the brutality it depicts (the stories of a young man shot in a cemetery while watering the flowers on his uncle's grave, who was killed by the cartel just days earlier; the clinical execution of two men in a bar, killed like a violent robbery by the authorities; the severed human heads lying on the roadside) are the film's repugnant endpoint.

With astonishing cinematography – the scenes of storm clouds gathering in the desert like a mushroom cloud, or the Milky Way at night, brilliant in the colors of the rainbow – The Guardian of Memory a story that won't let you down. It is a story of "the crimes against humanity that continue to be committed unpunished in Mexico," as the scroll text indicates.

Nick Holdsworth
Nick Holdsworth
Holdsworth is a writer, journalist and filmmaker.

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