Eduardo López, the director of the award-winning documentary Harvest of Empire, completed a film screening tour in September of 2013 where he discussed the root causes of Latino migration to the U.S. at Cornell University, Ithaca College, Elmira College, Nazareth College, St. John Fisher College, and Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
The documentary, based on the groundbreaking book Harvest of Empire by Journalist and Democracy Now! Co-host Juan Gonzalez reveals the direct connection between U.S. intervention in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean for over 100 years and the unprecedented influx of migrants from those Latin American nations to the U.S.
In addition to his production of Harvest of Empire, López has worked as the co-founder of EVS Communications and the producer of Línea Directa, an award-winning Spanish-language television series that provides Latino families living in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area with information on their rights, as well as on important health, education, legal, and social service issues.
López began film screening the tour on Sept. 16 at Cornell University where he met with students from the Latino Studies Program before giving a brief presentation and answering questions at the film screening in Willard Straight Theatre. During the question and answer period, Mr. López talked about his motivation for making the film and the challenges he faced in the process.
He explained how as an immigrant himself from El Salvador he witnessed the way Latinos and their story have been misrepresented in the media. López moved from El Salvador to Washington D.C. as an adolescent in 1967, long before the Salvadoran Civil War that ensued 12 years later between the U.S.-backed military-led Salvadorian government and the left-wing revolutionary group Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN). López witnessed the growth of the Salvadoran community in D.C. as people from his home country settled in the area to escape the devastation from the war.
López noted one difficulty in making the film was adapting the book, which encompasses all of the history of Latin America beginning with the conquest of Columbus, to a 90-minute film. Yet the greatest difficulty, he explained, was revealing the true story of Latinos, which included a long history of US exploitation in Latin America: “The greatest challenge that we faced was telling very difficult truths about our country but we wanted to do it in a way that would not be perceived as anti-U.S.,” he revealed. “Both the producer Wendy Thompson and I are very proud of being U.S. citizens, but we also think it is very important to tell our stories to our fellow citizens.”
López ended on why this knowledge is so important at this point in time. As Latino culture and influence is growing with demographic shifts, it is important to understand the contributions Latino immigrants have made to the U.S. in addition to questioning U.S. policies toward other countries that is not often illuminated in the US media.
On September 17 López spoke at a film screening at Elmira College. On September 18, López returned to Ithaca to speak with Ithaca College students in the class Migration, Exile, and Terror in the Spanish-Speaking World. That evening he screened the film and spoke with students at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York. On September 19, López traveled to Rochester, New York to speak at film screenings at Nazareth College and St John Fisher College, where he concluded his tour.