The latest production by Ecuadorian documentary filmmaker Pocho Álvarez is entitled ‘Migrants, the other us – Cubans’. The documentary evidences the discrimination experienced by migrant Cubans in Ecuador. It also denounces the failure of the State and Ecuadorian society to respect and implement the principles enshrined in the Constitution relating to freedom of movement and universal citizenship.
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In little more than 14 minutes, Álvarez exposes the viewer to the reality experienced by Cuban migrants in Ecuador. According to figures from the Foreign Ministry, between 2008 and the end of 2015, approximately 40,000 Cubans entered the country. “The presence of migrants reveals the character of the State and society and it is painful. The central Government breaks the Constitution, erects walls and establishes obstacles to the migration of Cubans. As State policy, this means not only a flagrant violation of these people’s human rights, but of the Constitution, which recognizes universal citizenship and free movement. This is political hypocrisy and we must shout it. This darkness must break with the light of those working on the issue and with the voice of migrants.”
Through the voice of Cubans, Álvarez recounts the ordeals they suffer. Through their testimonies, the documentary explains that they have been abandoned politically and are constantly rejected for their foreign status. According to the documentary, what hurts the most is that, over the last nine years, the State and society have constructed policies of xenophobia and disregard towards migrants. The documentary gives examples.
“In many State public addresses, foreigners are held responsible for preventing development. For example, President Rafael Correa lambasted ecologist Carlos Zorrilla for being a Cuban-American who connects to the outside in English, saying, ‘how long we will allow that.” He also plays a blackmail game with local doctors. ‘You do not abide by my all-embracing will, my laws? No problem, you are dismissed,’ and then brings in 3,000 Cuban doctors. It is an anti-migration policy”, Álvarez comments.
Another discriminatory measure employed by this Government is the change in the visa application process to enter the country, announced in November 2015. In the documentary, migrants protest that, in order to prevent their free movement, the Government imposed the world’s most expensive visa. They must pay $450 to apply and could still be denied.
“If art could change reality, another would be singing. But it helps to raise awareness. I hope the documentary will generate more light upon us and the Government we have,” says Álvarez. Since February 14, the short documentary has been circulating on the Internet via YouTube. “The video has generated controversy and has moved people. It shows this other us that cries, that hurts. No one is exempt from his neighbor’s pain, even if they are not well liked,” says the filmmaker.