The narco-conflicts and humanitarian crises in Mexico and the southwestern United States are some of the most pressing human rights issues in the world. The Mexican government estimates that since 2007, 23,000 people have been disappeared by rival cartels, the police and SWAT-like
units established to try to engender peace in the country. This is a conservative estimate.
Most of the carnage captured in the 2015 documentary Kingdom of Shadows is centered in Monterrey, where the Zeta and Gulf cartels battle over control of the drug flow while waging a barbaric and ruthless war of attrition upon each other and the innocent civilians trapped in the crossfire.
This is, of course, terrible and unfortunate. It's also, sadly, a dry and clinical observation to a crisis that demands attention, action and resolution. That a candidate for the most powerful political position in the world — Donald Trump — can openly state that he wants to capture, detain and deport over 10 million human beings to a country whose violence and rigid hierarchical inequity have thrust them across a border that they are willing to die to cross, something most US citizens could never comprehend, hence the approval, running from tacit to rabid, of millions of them, is despicable.
Kingdom of Shadows is a documentary written and directed by Bernardo Ruiz which covers the peak of violence and disappearances throughout 2010 and 2011, and the experiences and reactions of three people centrally involved: a nun grinding against the stony resolve of bureaucracy to get justice and attention for families of the disappeared, a Texan who smuggled marijuana from Mexico to the US in the '80s, just before the enactment of President Ronald Reagan's draconian policies targeting people of color and in economic duress, and a former border patrol agent who worked his way up the ladder only to become disenchanted with the established prevention and detention techniques of the system.
The film, in its 73 profound minutes expounds upon the causes and effects of the US and Mexico's War on Drugs — which we're told can be won by aggressive militarism, harsh prison sentencing and simple moral fortitude — far better than I could in a short preview. Luckily, Bernardo Ruiz will be on hand to field questions and comments after the screening. So, check it out. It's your civic duty.
Kingdom of Shadows screening and Q&A with Writer/Director Bernardo Ruiz
Free with RSVP, 7:30pm, Tue, Nov. 10, Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, 723 Brazos St., (210) 271-3151, guadalupeculturalarts.org