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La Caminata
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La Caminata
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ViewChange: Challenging Hunger

A small town in northern Mexico has come up with a unique way to stem the exodus of workers migrating illegally to the United States: create a theme park–style event for tourists to experience a simulated border crossing, complete with fake immigration patrols and balaclava-clad coyotes. This film adds a fresh perspective to the ongoing debate surrounding economic migration, especially with regard to its impact on those people left behind.

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Directed by Jamie Meltzer.

Originally featured in the ViewChange Online Film Contest.

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Segment 1

GUIDE
We have to cross! We'll go in groups of three. Let's go! Another three, fast! Run! Run! Let's go! Go that way!
MAN 1 [Caminata worker acting as immigration officer]
This is immigration.
BOY
They found him. They found him. Immigration.
TITLE
Alberto, Mexico
TITLE
700 miles from the U.S./Mexico border
PONCHO
La Caminata is a simulation, a simulation of how an illegal crosses to the United States. It's a simulation of what migrants go through, but what we try to do here is raise consciousness about the suffering of the migrant. It's a tribute to those migrants who didn't find or arrive at their dream. My name is Poncho. I'm one of the guides of the border crossing. There's people who pretend to be immigration. People who are guides. Others carry the torches. It's an endless list of teamwork.
MAN 2
Ready for the Caminata?
MAN 3
Ready!
MAN 4
We discovered this place through the internet. We found out that there was this type of journey that simulates what the migrants who cross the border experience. It sounds very interesting.
MEN AND WOMEN
One, two, three, wetbacks!
MAN 5
For those of us who don't have the necessity to cross, we want to know how a Mexican feels making this journey to the United States.
GUIDE
If they shine light on you, hit the floor!
PONCHO
We begin the experience of migration where the simulated border patrol tries to pursue us, find us, capture us, to return us and end our dream.
MAN 1
This is the U.S. border patrol. I know you guys can hear me.
PONCHO
The idea is to put them in this situation to truly experience what a migrant experiences.
MAN 1
Everyone put your hands up! Over your head. Who is your smuggler! Who is your coyote? What is your name? You, what is your name? Tonight we're taking you to jail. Tomorrow we'll deport you to Mexico.
PONCHO
The first red flag we saw as migrants was our community turning into a ghost town. All the people were migrating and migrating. There's no longer any inhabitants. One thinks we have to do something with our people and our country. When we started the Caminata, 90 percent of our community was migrating. There were only about 10 percent living here. Now, however, we have about 35 percent living here. The struggle is being waged. People are working here for each Caminata event.
TITLE
Since its inception in 2004, thousands of tourists have traversed the Caminata. Charging USD$18 a head, the Caminata is a major part of Alberto's economy, employing over a hundred members of the community.
TITLE
A film by Jamie Meltzer
TITLE
La Caminata