“COMPANEROS DE LUCHA”— Standing Up for Belief

“Companeros De Lucha”

Standing Up for Belief

Amos Lassen

I am sucker romance and to me the most romantic thing is when a person stands up for what he believes it yet I am fairly sure that not many people would think this documentary to be a romance. The story here is about the Isla Verde Island in Puerto Rico and Camp Pa’l Pueblo Beaches. The Courtyard Marriott on the island wants to expand but in doing so local beaches and natural resources will be put in danger. Juan C. Davila directed this powerful film which is steeped with social content. Davila actually went to the camp so he could learn more about the environmentalists who lived there and who have done so in a cramped existence for over six years. He interviewed residents including Tito Kayak, an environmentalist,  Pedro Saade, an environmental lawyer, Rafael Hernandez Mayoral, an attorney, Carmen Yulin Cross, a representative and Francisco Lopez, an artist.

The camp is a small tent circle on the beach at Carolina, Puerto Rico. Those who live there have to deal with mosquitoes, storms, excessive heat and they do so to protest the Marriott’s plans. What unites the people at the camp is the feeling that the beach belongs to the people of Puerto Rico and they have managed to hold off the hotel expansion. They have to deal with constant pressure from the hotel and the government of Puerto Rico because tourism is so important to the country. However, the protestors are determined and are guided by deep passion. It is very interesting how this little “band of brothers” has managed to do what they have done especially when the “enemy” is a multi-million dollar business. The film follows the group that is willing to do anything for what they believe is right and just. They are intrepid activists but we also see that they are not alone and will be even less alone now that this film is available for all to see.

The protestors’ case finally went to trial in October, 2012 and the decision was such that our group lost and was informed they could not file an appeal. It is the opinion of the court that the lease granted to the Marriott is totally legal but the camp still stands, the activists are still there and the Marriott has not yet begun to expand.

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