After being part of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “X-Men: Apocalypse,” Oscar Isaac took the leading role in “The Promise,” a historic movie about the Armenian genocide. Through his character, the Guatemalan actor is raising awareness on a topic that we don’t normally see covered by mass media.
It’s been more than 100 years since the Ottoman Empire murdered more than 1 million Armenians between 1915 and 1922, but “as few as 34 films have been made on the subject,” reports Slate.
“The Promise” is the first mainstream flick about the genocide produced in Hollywood thanks to the late Armenian businessman and investor Kirk Kerkorian, who put himself on a mission to bring the story to the masses. Kerkorian, who owned Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) in 1969, passed away as the film was going into production in 2015.
“He always wanted to make an epic film with the best actors available that wouldn’t just be a history lesson,” said movie producer Eric Esrailian to Variety.
“The Promise,” directed by Terry George, revolves around the love triangle of an Armenian medical student, Michael (Isaac), an American journalist based in Paris, Christopher (Christian Bale) and Ana (Charlotte Le Bon), an Armenian-born woman raised in France, during the beginning of the Armenian genocide.
The movie, which has yet to be released nationwide, premiered at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival in September.
This past Sunday, voters took to to the polls in Guatemala and voted in a new leader that will surely shape the country for the next four years. Alejandro Giammattei, a right-wing former prison chief,took victory in the presidential electionsin Guatemala, winning nearly 60% of the vote over former First Lady Sandra Torres, who had 42% of the vote. The election was filled with many questions and ultimately became a contest where Guatemalans viewed the election a battle between the worst possible options.
Giammattei faced an uphill battle during the election cycle that many didn’t see him ending up on top considering this was his fourth attempt running for President. The 63-year-old spent several months in prison back in 2008, when he was then director of the country’s prison system, due to some prisoners being killed in a raid during this tenure. He would eventually be acquitted of wrongdoing.
“Today is a new period of the country,” Giammattei toldsupporters Guatemala City following his victory. “Those who voted for us, those who did not vote for us, and those who did not go to vote, it does not matter. Today we need to unite, today I am the president of all Guatemalans.”
Here’s what you need to know about Giammattei and why was elected to lead Guatemala.
Giammattei was at first viewed as a long shot to win the nomination but his get-tough approach to crime and his conservative viewpoints, which includes his strong opposition to gay marriage and abortion, won him over with Guatemalan voters in a presidential runoff. He ran on a platform with a promise to bring down violence, endorse family values and support the death penalty.
There are about eight million Guatemalans who are registered to vote in the Central American country. But the nation that has been hit with by poverty, unemployment and migration issues, had about 45% turnout which suggests widespread disillusionment and lack of confidence with the political process.
Giammattei will take office in January from President Jimmy Morales, who leaves a corruption-tainted legacy. He congratulated his successor and promised a “transparent and orderly” transition.
“I hope that during this transition the doors will open to get more information so we can see what, from a diplomatic point of view, we can do to remove from this deal the things that are not right for us, or how we can come to an agreement with the United States,” Giammattei, 63, told Reutersin an interview.
What does the election of Giammattei mean for Guatemala moving forward, particularly when it comes to immigration?
One of the biggest issues facing Guatemala right now are the growing number of migrants that are leaving the country and heading towards the United States. At least 1% of Guatemala’s population of some 16 million has left the country this year due to a worsening economic situation and distrust in government. About 250,000 people from Guatemala were apprehended at the border since October,according toto U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Back in July, the Morales’ administration signed an agreement with the U.S. that would require Salvadorans and Hondurans to request asylum at a port of entry in Guatemala. This was done in part to slow the number of migrants that were crossing through the country to reach the U.S. The new administration will have to figure out what to do with the agreement which could have huge ramifications when it comes to the inflow of Central American migrants coming to the U.S. border.
This all will mean that Giammattei will need to negotiate with President Trump, who last month threatened to impose a travel ban, tariffs on exports and even taxes on migrants’ remittances if the country did not work with him on immigration reform. But that relationship won’t be an easy task as many, including Giammattei don’t agree with the deal.
“It’s not right for the country,” Giammattei toldNBC News. “If we don’t have the capacity to look after our own people, imagine what it will be like for foreigners.”
There are various takes on which direction Guatemala will go in with a new leader at the top.
As a new era in politics takes shape in Guatemala many are reflecting on the possibilities and the economic effect the election may bring. Many in the country wanted change at the top due to the prior administration and the corruption that it was constantly wrapped in.
“I decided to vote against Sandra Torres because of the accusations of corruption,” Rosa Julaju, an indigenous Kaqchikel woman, toldAl Jazeera.”I hope Giammattei confronts the violence in our country. I voted for him for better security.”
Whatever the reason to vote, it’s clear the country is moving in a new direction that many hope will bring prosperity and more job opportunities. But that will all rest on Giammattei who is in control of a country that is just looking to get back on it’s feet after years of corruption at the top.
TW: This story contains disturbing anecdotes of sexual violence.
Arizona’s Customs and Border Patrol Agency (CBP) announced the arrest of an Iowa couple for human smuggling and sexual assault after a Guatemalan girl was found in the streets of Sioux City and told her story to authorities. The girl, whose name will not be released for her own safety, is being referred as “ABF” on the federal affidavit detailing the perpetrator’s charges. Amy Francisco and her husband, Cristobal Francisco-Nicolas have been arrested and charged.
The couple was arrested in San Diego, but will likely face a federal court in Iowa.
ABF was found wandering Sioux City, urgently telling pedestrians she’d been sexually assaulted.
From there, Sioux City police interviewed ABF to learn that she and her father, Fernando Bartolo-Francisco were smuggled into the U.S. by relatives, Cristobal Francisco-Nicolas and his wife Amy Francisco. She said they were released from El Paso Detention Center because of overcrowding and were flown to Omaha by their relatives.
The couple then locked ABF in a room with a metal bed and a bucket for a bathroom.
Above is a Google image of the couple’s home where she was allegedly locked in. The affidavit said that, “ABF then stated Cristobal raped her and that Amy watched it happen from the door to the locked room. After being raped five times, ABF stated that one morning Cristobal left for work and did not lock the door.”
She then snuck out of the house while Amy Francisco was sleeping. She roamed the streets looking for someone who spoke Spanish to help her.
The Iowa couple admitted to smuggling ABF in but requested an attorney when law enforcement began questioning them for the alleged rape of ABF.
Francisco-Nicolas told police that he made arrangements for a coyote to transfer the father and daughter to the U.S. after learning through his sister that they were desperate to leave Guatemala.
“Cristobal stated he knows he messed up and the mistake he made was receiving these people,” the affidavit said. “Cristobal requested an attorney when law enforcement began to question him about the alleged rape of ABF.”
In response, some folks are taking the opportunity to demand CBP shut down the concentration camps and seek justice for victims within the system.
In February 2019, a report was released that detailed thousands of immigrant children saying they were sexually abused in U.S. detention centers. Between 2012 and March 2018 alone, there were 1,448 allegations of sexual abuse filed with ICE. Certainly, not every victim files a complaint.
Last year, the ACLU helped an asylum-seeker from Honduras file suit against an employee at a detention center for failure to protect her from sexual violence.
Court documents detail how her abuser threatened her with possible deportation while their coworkers stood by and continued the jokes. There are laws in place that criminalize any kind of sexual behavior between a correctional facility staff member and the people in their custody. That’s because consent cannot happen when powers are imbalanced. This facility is still trying to deflect responsibility by saying the detainee “consented.”
Some people are taking the opportunity to blame Democrats for ABF’s assault.
Given that ICE and CBP are not being held accountable by anyone. That fact, among many others including the conditions of the camps themselves, has incited public outrage, nationwide protests, and finger-pointing on both sides of the aisle.
Everyone seems to agree on one thing: prosecute.
Folks who don’t want to see immigrants in this country are weaponizing the tragedy by alleging it as cause to close the border. Folks who care about immigrants see the instance as a clear example of why undocumented immigrants should be granted basic rights that would allow ABF’s father to be lawfully employed and to live openly.
The culture of fear for undocumented immigrants makes them among the most vulnerable members of our society. ABF was not registered with a school. Her father couldn’t go to authorities without risking deportation. It’s clear that an undocumented child wouldn’t go looking for the police unless her claims were valid.
Yes, prosecute these individuals, and also make it safer for every family to exist without harm.