Saturday, April 11, 2009

La Vida Loca

The Los Angeles Times website describes the new documentary by Christian Poveda, La Vida Loca (The Crazy Life) and uses it as the centerpiece for a discussion about the causes and solutions to the gang problem:

That's a reality that Poveda feels a lot of Americans don’t know about and should.

“Americans have to realize how much damage the U.S. has done to this region,” he says.

Poveda, who lives in San Salvador and has worked as a photojournalist covering the country before, during and after the 12-year-long civil war that began in 1980, is talking from experience.

The current situation in El Salvador is one of the less-inspiring examples of the long-standing social and economic ties between the United States and Latin American countries, he argues.

Gangs were formed by Salvadorans living on the streets of Los Angeles in the 1980s. When the peace accords that ended the civil war were signed in El Salvador in the early 1990s, huge numbers of gang members returned to the country, some of them by choice but most of them through deportation by U.S. authorities. Many were sent back after completing prison sentences.

As Rocky Delgadillo, a Los Angeles city attorney, notes in this column for the L.A. Times, “this only exacerbated the problem, spreading gangs like a virus until they grew into transnational `super-gangs'.”

Poverty and a lack of opportunities in post-war El Salvador made the country a ripe recruiting ground. (more)

La Vida Loca has not yet been released in the US.


Anonymous said...

So a sovereign nation that decides to deport illegal immigrants who have a history of felony convictions is then responsible for whatever crimes those deportees commit in their home country. The underlying logic to that argument would be that any sovereign nation is obligated to accept anyone who manages to cross it's borders no matter what they do while they are in that country. If this is the standard for all good countries to be measured by can anyone name me any country that is willing to do that and actually has such a policy?


The United States is a great country and one of its most telling signs of virtue is its status as a destination country for so many immigrants. Yet, it is not a perfect society and I think it is reasonable to recognize that the cold war support for the civil war in El Salvador created a mass exodus of refugees from El Salvador, historic in Salvadoran history. The U.S. created various incentives, both negative (fostering wartime conditions in ES) and positive (TPS that exempted Salvadoran immigrants from deportation, etc.) for Salvadorans to go to the U.S. These actions have moral implications that cannot be brushed aside by speaking in legalities (*sovereign* nation that decides to deport *illegal* immigrants, etc.).

Anonymous said...

La Vida Loca is actually a polemical documentary for those who work in the communities where the film was recorded. Many feel the film is sensational and dehumanizing for the protagonists of the piece. There is a very complex reality in the commumities of Soyapongo - and the youth involved in gangs deserve a representation as textured and complex as the reality in which they live.

Anonymous said...

I agree with PP. The Poveda documentary and his approach in general to his subjects (and subject matter) are very controversial. There is a LOT of ego behind this production and not a lot of social conscious regarding the complexity of the gang situation itself. But, more than the "situation" or "fenómeno", it's the people who get lost behind the production and hype around this film. Their lives having meaning independently of how or if anyone else captures it on film. Ironically, the creator of the film seems to think this makes their lives more human and understandable... in spite of the serious rejection that many, many gang members feel towards the film.