Wet-foot/Dry-foot

Maybe what the folks in Washington need in order to understand how absurd the wet-foot/dry-foot policy is is a short audio/video presentation. Via MSNBC:

Film depicts plight of Cuban rafters

Abandoned bridge ruled not to count as ?dry land?

Updated: 7:03 p.m. ET Feb. 8, 2006

MIAMI – When director Carlos Gutierrez set out to make a short film about two Cuban rafters stranded on a deserted island off the coast of Florida, he hoped the movie might renew interest in the U.S. government?s wet foot/dry foot immigration policy.

He never set out to make a movie ripped from the headlines.

Then last month the Bush administration sparked a firestorm when it declared an abandoned bridge in the Florida Keys didn?t count as ?dry land? and sent back 15 Cubans who had landed there. Suddenly the Miami-native found himself not only promoting his new Spanish-language film but smack dab in the middle of a major political debate.

Under the long-standing policy, Cubans who are picked up at sea are usually returned home, while those who reach U.S. soil are allowed to stay.

?It was a story that was there, under the radar, but the best I could hope for was that people would see it and say ?Oh, we should pay attention.? I never imagined this coincidence,? Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez hopes to turn ?Wet Foot/Dry Foot,? featuring Spanish-language soap star Francisco Gattorno and fellow Cuban actor Jorge Alvarez, into a feature-length movie. A debut screening of the film, which Gutierrez wrote for his masters? thesis at New York University, was held Feb. 2nd at the University of Miami.

The film follows two starving migrants as they argue over whether to stay on the island or swim to a nearby boat a 100 yards off shore in hopes of finding food ? risking being caught by the U.S. Coast Guard with ?feet wet.?

The film arrives just weeks after a Cuban-American activist ended an 11-day hunger strike protesting the removal of the 15 migrants, who landed on the abandoned bridge Jan. 4, just about 100 yards from a bridge that is considered U.S. territory. The Bush administration has since agreed to meet with several Florida U.S. congressional representatives to discuss the policy.

Human side to immigration debate
Immigration attorney William Sanchez, who is representing relatives of the migrants in a legal challenge to the federal policy, said he hopes the film will give Americans a better understanding of the issue.

?We’re seeing in the fiction something that seems absurd, but it?s not as absurd as the form in which it?s actually being applied on a daily and weekly basis,? Sanchez said.

Gattorno, who currently stars in Telemundo?s ?Land of Passions,? and was also featured in the 2000 drama, ?Before Night Falls,? said making the film was both exhilarating and painful, forcing him to relive his own decision to leave Cuba in 1994. Although he left through legal channels, Gattorno recalled not being able to see his father for more than eight years.

?It was a time of little hope,? he said. ?It?s something that is still raw.?

Gutierrez, the son of two Cuban immigrants, said he hopes the film will provide a human side to the debate over immigration ? not just the Cuban experience ? but also that of Mexicans and Central Americans.

But he says he tried hard to avoid making the 18-minute film, shot in eight days in the Florida Keys, explicitly political.

?I didn?t want it to be propaganda,? he said. ?I wanted it to be about the story. It?s the basic human struggle of not only wanting to survive but wanting to seek freedom and seek freedom at any cost.?

2 thoughts on “Wet-foot/Dry-foot”

  1. Fellow Babalusians,
    This film is such a fascinating topic that I’m astounded that no one has commented upon since it was posted.
    Can one of you South Florida folks contact one of the makers –perhaps the director himself– and inquire how to get copies of it?
    Because the reality of it all is that the film may air in South Florida a couple of times, and it be covered in the news media there –but in the rest of the country, more than likely, there will be *nothing* about it.
    So how can some of us far away from the Miami Mafia Zona Lim’itrofe get ahold of a copy of this film –or many copies of it?
    Copies that we could show our friends and neighbors, or have a local library do a presentation, or whatever?
    This is, after all, extremely vital knowledge for non-Cuban audiences to have, if nothing else, so we can spread the word about the reality of life in Cuba.
    For instance, I have two American friends in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, whose *five* children are home educated. The mother, whom I met at a Civil War reenactment, expressed interest when I became “visually agitated” when I discovered one reenactor with the infamous tatoo of “el ch’e” on his torso after he removed his shirt at the end of an event.
    That man is spreading ignorance and lies, I explained to her, as I collected her address so I could send her information on the topic.
    I sent her two articles –both of them copied from Babalublog.com– that discussed that churrioso argentinean’s life and misdeeds, and suggested rather strongly that she have all of her five children read them.
    Does the fellow with the tatoo know about any of this?, the woman asked me later. I doubt it, I replied… he only thinks that the man was “a Rebel” (which is what the reenactor portrays on the field) and he probably doesn’t even know the man’s name.
    The woman just shook her head in disbelief.
    Unfortunately, I haven’t bumped into that reenactor since I saw him parading around shirtless. But you can bet your last dollar that I’m going to have a heart-to-heart talk with him, as well as hand him photocopies of those articles the next time we meet –because nowadays I don’t go anywhere without them, just in case I meet other ignoramuses who worship “that rebel” –whether it’s something as “innocuous” as wearing a t-shirt with his effigy– without knowing anything else about the man.
    I don’t challenge anyone’s right to put on their bodies (whether on a t-shirt or on their skin) anything they want –after all, this is still America– but at the very least, they should know who they are supporting, precisely what the person stood for.
    JulioZ

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