Baptism By Fire--Vieques Project Update (fwd)

Michael Hoover hoov at
Sat Jun 10 13:20:10 MDT 2000

forwarded by Michael Hoover


Many of you will be receiving a packet of information in the mail regarding
the Baptism by Fire Project.  For those of you who didn't, postage is kind
of expensive so we are emailing you a copy of the letter and treatment.  We
also have a 12minute trailer that we shot on May 5 to May 10, 2000.  Please
email me and I will send you a complete package.  Please direct all mail
and email
from June 9 till August 30, 2000 you can send all mail to the address below:

                                Baptism By Fire
                             c/o Elesha M. Miranda &
                           Salsa w/ Chutzpha Productions
                               HC-02 Box 15004
                          Vieques, Puerto Rico 00765-6740
                (787) 741-2893 (tel)(this phone may not be working yet)
                        or (917) 251-1531 (voice mail)
               email <salsawchutzpah at>, <emm77 at>

We are preparing to shot this documentary no matter what, the people of
Vieques need us there now.  We are still raising funds for digitial video
tapes (they cost $300 for 10), bringing over a sound person, another
camera, and travel and lodging for other needed crew and health insurance
for the crew.

Thanks for everyone's support in so many ways.  Please read the letter below.

We are pleased to add a new member to our team, Amanda Matos-Gonzales was
born and raised in Boston, MA.  Amanda has done extensive organizing and
education work with the Latino community, women, and youth throughout
Boston.  She is 20 years old, and is both Puerto Rican and Dominican. She
has worked for the Boston Women's Fund-- Young Sistahs For Justice Project.
We are excited to have Amanda's energy, experience, and commitment added to
our project as an Assistant Producer.

Please feel free to pass this on to anyone that may be interested in
supporting our project. Muchas gracias!

yours in struggle,
Elesha and K.
June 6, 2000

Dear Friends, Family, Colleagues, and Allies:

I am writing this letter to ask for your support.  I am currently directing
and co-producing a feature length documentary film called Baptism By Fire
exploring the U.S. Military presence in Vieques, Puerto Rico.  The media is
often times corrupted by those in power, only allowing us to see a glimpse
of the real story.  We want to tell the people's story.  This topic is
especially timely given the upcoming elections in the United States and
Puerto Rico.  Enough people have suffered, we must expose the injustices
now.  In 1941, during the height of World War II, the Navy took possession
of two thirds of the island, displacing thousands of families.  For fifty
years, the U.S. Navy has been bombing Vieques  with cannons, hellfire
missiles, and napalm bombs.  The toxic residues from the bombings has lead
to serious contamination of the environment, as well as civilian deaths.
This story will be told through the eyes of Anita, a 37 year old single,
lesbian mother of eight children who is a maintenance worker for a
low-income housing project on Vieques.  Anita's personal story reflects the
larger struggle on Vieques, as she was born from the rape of her Puerto
Rican mother by a U.S. Marine. I believe VERY strongly in the subject
matter and the power of the "media" (in the right hands) to inform and
inspire people to action.

Documentary films depend so much on being there at the right time.  On May
4th, 212 protesters were arrested and once the cameras were off, people
were extremely mistreated by the military.   Through emergency funding, I
and two crew members, were able to get to Vieques by May 5th.  What we saw
made it evident that the conflict between the local protesters and the U.S.
Military must be documented now.  We need to shoot this documentary this

My co-producer and I are applying for numerous charitable grants (Funding
Exchange/Roberson Fund, the RESIST foundation, ASTRAEA, SOROS documentary
fund, and the Latino Public Broadcasting grant to name a few) and fiscal
sponsorship with Third World Newsreel (making us tax-exempt).  However,
much of the money we are applying for will not be available to us until
October of 2000.  Documentaries are not money-making ventures, they are
made because of a commitment that one has to a particular story or issue.
Given that we are making a film about a highly charged political issue and
this is our first feature film, it is difficult to fundraise from
mainstream sources.  Movies like Baptism By Fire are made through private
donations, fundraisers, and collective commitment.

We must raise $10,000 in private donations for the summer, which will also
show potential funders that this film is being supported by a community of
concerned citizens.  We are setting a deadline of June 15, 2000 to raise
this money. Our entire budget is $73,580-which seems like a lot of money,
but is very low-budget by industry standards. Enclosed you will find a film
treatment, crew bios, newspaper clippings, and reflections from our recent
trip.  You can also call and request a copy of our twelve minute video
trailer of  "rough footage" that was shot hand-held by me.  Envision what
this film will look like shot by a professional cinematographer,
professional sound, an original music soundtrack,  a strong story, a full
crew, and a vision that is implemented in the spirit of collaboration and
equality between the crew and the people of Vieques.

It is my hope, that after reviewing the enclosed packet,  you will feel
moved to join us in the making of Baptism By Fire through making a
financial contribution.   Feel free to forward this information on to
anyone that may be interested and to call me at (917) 251-1531 or email
<salsawchutzpah at> if you have any further questions or comments.
The production and success of this film will not be possible without your

Yours in struggle,
Elesha  Miranda
Director/ Co-Producer
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Please print this form and mail it along withyour tax-deductible donation
in the address below:
(payable to) Elesha Maria Miranda, HC-02 Box 15004, Vieques, PR  00765-6740.
Place Baptism By Fire in the memo space of your check or money order.

=95     Yes!  I want to give a tax-deductible contribution to Baptism By
=46ire in                  the amount of:
=95$2,000            =95$1,000             =95$500                 =95$250
=95$50       =95$25                =95Other ________________
=95     Yes!  I want to organize a fundraiser on ____________________date,
please call me.
=95     Yes!  I would like to donate a digital camera.
=95     Yes!  I would like to donate a sound kit.
=95     Yes! I would be willing to approach friends who may support this

=95     My  check or money order is enclosed.



City, State, Zip_____________________________

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Baptism By Fire
A Documentary Film about Vieques, Puerto Rico
Directed by  Elesha Mar=EDa Miranda
Co-Produced by Simmons  and Elesha Mar=EDa Miranda
Assitant Produced by Amanda Matos-Gonzalez
Cinematorgraphy by Victor Ra=FAl Mar=EDn


First their country, then their homes, now their lives - the U.S. Navy
bombs a defenseless tropical island.

History.  Puerto Rico became a colony of the United States in 1898.  In
1938, the U.S. Navy began using the Puerto Rican Island of Vieques, located
off of the eastern coast of San Juan.  In 1941, during the height of World
War II, the Navy took possession of two thirds of the island, displacing
thousands of families.  Today, the entire civilian population, over nine
thousand Viequenses are clustered into the middle third of the island.

Economic Issues.  The people of Vieques depend on fishing for their
economic survival, they are not permitted to fish when the Navy is using
the surrounding waters.  Tourism is another source of income, but few
Viequenses own their own businesses. U.S. Americans have entered the island
and run the majority of the island businesses tax-free.  Employment options
are many times limited to working for the U.S. Navy or local police.  The
unemployment rate in Vieques is 75%, 15% higher then the rest of Puerto
Rico.  Many residents are dependent on Public Assistance for survival.

Environmental and Health Issues.  Economic survival is not the only
hardship facing Vieques.  The U.S. Navy uses the small island to practice
live-fire exercises.  In particular, they fire rounds of shells loaded with
depleted uranium.  (Only 25% of these shells are ever recovered.)
Furthermore, for fifty years, the U.S. Navy has been bombing Vieques  with
cannons, hellfire missiles, and napalm bombs.  The immediate effects of the
bombings are the destruction of delicate ecosystems.  Also, the toxic
residues from the bombings and other military maneuvers lead to serious
contamination of the environment.  The people of Vieques suffer from high
levels of cancer and other serious health problems such as lupus, thyroid
deficiencies, and asthma.

Civilian Death.  On April 19, 1999, the U.S. Military dropped two 500lb
bombs on the eastern tip of Vieques.  A civilian guard, David Sanes
Rodriguez, was killed and four others were injured.  Since David's death,
hundreds of civilians have risked their lives by living in encampments on
the U.S. Military's bombing ranges.  To date, these protests have
successfully detained the bombings.  However, on April 28, 2000 - U.S.
=46ederal authorities sent one thousand U.S. Marines to help remove Puerto
Rican protesters from a bombing range on Vieques.  On May 4, 2000- 212
protesters were arrested by the U.S. Military for camping on land that was
forcibly taken from them.  We have filmed personal testimonies from those
detained, detailing emotional and physical abuses suffered.

Latin Explosion.   Sofia Qunitero, a writer and activist in New York, can
be quoted in the May, 2000 issue of MS magazine as saying,  "The seven year
itch strikes, and the Anglo gaze rediscovers Latinos.  Another exercise in
conquering the exotic, this time wielding consumption rather than
colonialization."   Quintero continues to discuss how U.S. pop culture has
created an image of Latinos that ranges from taco peddling Chihuahua dogs
to Puerto Rican pop-culture icons such as Ricky Martin and Jennifer Lopez.
These images would have U.S. American minds believing that Latinos are
truly "Livin La Vida Loca' and thriving as a people.  As filmmakers, we
have seen that colonialism is alive and well, it's just masked by mass
consumerism and brown-faced slogans that profit only a privileged few.  The
people of Puerto Rico, specifically Vieques, have been and are continuing
to be destroyed by U.S. domination.  It is imperative that the real story
be told.

Documentary. Baptism By Fire is a feature length documentary exploring the
U.S. Military presence in Vieques, Puerto Rico through the eyes of a woman
born to a Viequense woman and a U.S. Marine temporarily training on the
island.  Raised solely be her mother, Anita, now 37, is a single, lesbian
mother of eight children, and working as a maintenance worker for a
low-income housing project.  Since the birth of the Puerto Rican Nation,
women have been present in the defense of their homeland. This film is
timely as we will be able to document a Viequense woman's journey of
survival amidst a homeland under siege.

Baptism By Fire will include interviews with people living in Vieques,
political leaders in Vieques, political leaders in Puerto Rico,
representatives of the U.S. Government, representatives of the U.S.
Military, resistance rallies in the United States, Puerto Rican pop culture
celebrities, and political icons. It will also include footage of Vieques
from the 1930's through present, including scenes from everyday life,
political protests, and the U.S. Military engaging in live-fire exercises.

Film Crew.  The crew consists of two women and two men (all early twenties
to early thirties, varying races, religions, nationalities, sexual
orientations, and socio-economic backgrounds).


                                Baptism By Fire
                             c/o Elesha M. Miranda &
                           Salsa w/ Chutzpha Productions
                               HC-02 Box 15004
                          Vieques, Puerto Rico 00765-6740
                (787) 741-2893 (tel)(this phone may not be working yet)
                        or (917) 251-1531 (voice mail)
               email <salsawchutzpah at>, <emm77 at>

       o   \ o /  _ o         __|    \ /     |__        o _  \ o /   o
      /|\    |     /\   ___\o   \o    |    o/    o/__   /\     |    /|\
      / \   / \   | \  /)  |    ( \  /o\  / )    |  (\  / |   / \   / \

More information about the Marxism mailing list