New film shines a light on the plight of migrants in Mexico

By Charlotte Philips of Amnesty International’s Refugees and Migrants Rights team

It’s a sunny Sunday morning in the quiet neighbourhood of Zona Rosa in Mexico City. Sarah, (our campaigner on Mexico) and I have just stopped to reflect on what has so far been a whirlwind trip.

It all started at the crack of dawn six days ago when we boarded a packed flight from London to Mexico City. Our purpose? To launch The Invisibles, a new film in four parts documenting the journey of Central American migrants travelling through Mexico and the brutal reality of life on the move.
Our hope? to shine a light on what has largely remained an invisible issue and highlight the Mexican government’s obligation to prevent and punish these abuses, whether perpetrated by criminal gangs or their own officials.

Hollywood actor Gael Garcia Bernal, (Motorcycle Diaries, Amores Perros) co- directed the film with director Marc Silver and also appears in it. As a socially-minded Mexican who has previously worked on migrant issues, Gael was just as excited about making the film as we were, and it took little persuasion to get him on board.

The idea for the film came about after several research trips to Southern Mexico to document the human rights abuses of thousands of irregular migrants who travel through Mexico every year.

Our team spent hours interviewing migrants who told us what was happening to people on their way to the US: how they had been prayed on by criminal gangs and sometimes public officials and how the gangs were killing, raping and kidnapping migrants. The stories were horrifying but the people we spoke to were determined to reach the US. We decided we had to find a way to draw the world’s attention to this human rights crisis.

The Invisibles launch was timed to coincide with the Global Forum on Migration and Development (otherwise know as the GFMD), an important annual meeting of governments and civil society to discuss issues around migration.

This year the GFMD is taking place in Mexico, creating the perfect opportunity for us to bring the issue to the attention of governments from around the world. Most importantly, it gives us a chance to engage with the Mexican government directly.

The first screening of The Invisibles took place at the beautiful Museum of Memory and Tolerance in Mexico City on Thursday

Around 200 people attended the screening including members of NGOs and community organizations and human rights defenders.

Padre Solalinde, an activist who appears in the film and who runs a migrant shelter in Southern Mexico, was on hand to speak about the issues.

Reactions from the audience were extremely positive, with a number of comments that the films were being instrumental in the struggle to ensure that migrant voices are heard.

The Invisibles’ public launch will be at the Global Forum on Tuesday. Gael will be flying in for the screening where he will be speaking directly to governments about this important issue.

Posted in Americas, International Organizations, Migrants | 3 Comments

  1. Nathan says:

    Dear Charlotte,
    I am just trying to watch ‘Part Two: Six out of Ten’ beyond 3 minutes and 45 seconds but I am struggling to continue, I can see where the story is heading and I really don’t want it to.
    A very powerful and important film, well done to all involved. I hope the impact is as powerful as the film.

  2. Ramon Gomez says:

    This is an excellent opportunity to sensitize our students, our neighbors, our people about a reality we just can not ignore: the constant human right violations Central American migrants suffer in Mexican territory. I look forward to have my students see these four documentaries and keep working hard against violence to foreign migrants in Mexico.

  3. Thanks Nathan and Ramon for your comments. Sarah and I are now back from Mexico, having shown the films at the Global Forum on Migration and Development, in Puerto Vallarta, just north of Mexico City. It was great to have Gael Garcia Bernal fly in especially for the screening. As you can imagine, his presence generated a huge amount of interest! At least 400 people came to the launch , including a number of Mexican government officials and delegates from other governments. Gael and the director of the Amnesty International Mexico office spoke to people about the abuses against migrants and the need to ensure better protection of their rights.

    All in all we are very pleased by the amount of media and public interest that the films have attracted so far, in Mexico and beyond. Please share the films as widely as possible – and of course, please take action.

    If you have any thoughts on the films, do get in touch with us on this comments board. Also, check out our ‘behind the scenes’ footage from the screening at the GFMD – I will add a link to it as soon as its ready.

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