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This moving and compelling documentary paints a vivid picture of the
tragic situation involving the cartels, police, military, government,
and citizens of Mexico. This story is too little known north of the
border, and that's why this documentary is important and should be
seen. The director's bravery in obtaining some amazing footage is to be
However, in my opinion the filmmaker has made a serious and even
offensive misstep in trying to create a parallel between the vigilantes
of the Autodefensas and the vigilantes of the Arizona Border Recon.
Quoting from the doc's website, the premise is that these groups "vie
to bring their own brand of justice to a society where institutions
It's abundantly clear that in Mexico, to put it as neutrally as
possible, institutions (government, police, military) have failed to
protect citizens from cartel- sponsored violence. The tragic
consequences of this failure are made disturbingly real in the film.
However, the idea that U.S. government, police, and military have
failed to protect the citizens of Arizona from cartel-sponsored
violence is just absurd. Worse, by comparing a flawed Mexican leader
who is apparently sincerely trying to address a horrific situation to a
flawed American "leader" who is off on some crackpot right-wing
conspiracy theory where the danger is mostly in his head, the film ends
up insulting the actual pain and suffering experienced by the people of
Mexico. However much the Arizona guy wants to say he's really focusing
on the cartel's activity in the Arizona desert (how does that work,
again?), his true motive is to stop people from crossing the border
because he has an anti-immigration ax to grind. However you feel about
immigration, U.S.-based anti- immigrant vigilantism is not analogous to
the motives or efforts of the Autodefensas. Comparing the two insults
the Mexican people's suffering and the Autodefensas courage, however
flawed their leaders and unsuccessful their efforts may be.
If the filmmaker wanted to bring in important information from the U.S.
side of the border, he might have tried providing some information
about how our government's "War on Drugs" has paralleled the cartel's
rise (coincidence?), or the blood that's on our hands because we're the
ones buying the drugs.
Instead, he makes a false parallel with a group of anti-immigrant
wingnuts. If you want to make a documentary to show that anti-
immigrant wingnuts are people too, go ahead, but don't try to compare
the Arizona Border Recon to the Autodefensas. That's not an
intellectually fascinating parallel, as the filmmaker apparently
believes. It's just pretentious and, really, disgusting.
Tags for Cartel Land Full Movie
Enrique Peña Nieto
, José Manuel 'El Doctor' Mireles
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