The Ballad of Esequiel Hernández 2007/Documentary Movie Update 2020 (Reviews)

Very important documentary, exposes many lies still being told - Tommy Lee Jones narrates the story of Esequiel Hernandez, a young American man who was murdered by U.S. Marines on the border between Texas and Mexico.



MOVIE INFO
Genre: Documentary, Special Interest
Directed By: Kieran Fitzgerald
Written By: Kieran Fitzgerald, Brendan Fitzgerald, Shane Slattery-Quintanilla
In Theaters: Apr 27, 2007  Wide
On Disc/Streaming: May 19, 2020
Runtime: 90 minutes
Studio: First Run Features

In 1997, a group of United States Marines had been assigned to help guard the border between Texas and Mexico, looking for smugglers as part of the federal government's ongoing war on drugs. While on patrol, one of the Marines shot and killed Esequiel Hernandez Jr., mistaking him for a border jumper while the young man tended his family's goats.

Hernandez had the dubious distinction of becoming the first American citizen to be killed by U.S. military forces on domestic soil since the Kent State shootings in 1970, and filmmaker Kieran Fitzgerald explores Hernandez's tragic death and its long aftermath in the documentary The Ballad of Esequiel Hernandez.

The film features interviews with Hernandez's parents and friends, members of the Marine battalion who were on patrol that day, FBI agents who investigated the killing, and government agents and civilians who discuss the strained relations between the United States and Mexico, the effects of the War on Drugs, the use of military forces for domestic patrols, and how these factors contributed to one man's death. Narrated by Tommy Lee Jones, The Ballad of Esequiel Hernandez received its world premiere at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival.


Cundelatoteh Reviews
This film aired once on the PBS series P.O.V. in the summer of 2008, and I was lucky enough to have caught it. It has not been rebroadcast or distributed as a retail DVD. I consider it one of the most important documentaries I've ever seen, and now that the immigration issue has gotten overly heated and Obama is sending National Guard troops to the Mexican border this film has become more relevant than ever.

The Marines were put on the border in Texas to observe activity of suspected drug smuggling at a river border crossing. They had been given false information relating to the local townspeople, which said that 75% of then were involved in drug trafficking. None of the local landowners were aware of their presence. (The reality was - it was the Sheriff of the County that had been driving cocaine across the border in his horse trailer for years. He was finally busted with 3 tons).

Esequiel, a local high school student, went out to graze his family's goats, taking his .22 rifle to protect the herd from wild dogs and coyotes as he always did. The Marines came upon Esequiel (with his goats) and immediately suspected him of being a criminal. The Marines were heavily camouflaged and hiding. Esequiel saw movement in their direction and fired his gun. It's not known if he fired at the Marines or something else. The Marines assumed he had fired at them, but the kid could not have known it was Marines in camouflage.

The Marines were angry and excited, and the squad leader wanted to pursue the kid and "neutralize" him, though this went against their order to follow the "Rules of Engagement". They stalked him for some time closing the distance between them. Then one of the Marines shot and killed the boy.

The story that was told was that Ezequiel had raised his gun to fire at them a second time, which was a fabrication according to the FBI and Marine investigators and other law enforcement officers, as well as three of the Marines involved. The forensic evidence proved that the boy was not aiming his gun at them but facing the other direction.

Both the Department of Defense and the Justice Departmant blatantly lied about the incident, covering up the truth that a Marine murdered a good Texan.

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