Review: Hijos de la guerra (2006)


Directed by: Alexandre Fuchs | 81 minutes | documentary

Merciless images of massacres are flying around your ears in the film. You are spared nothing, just as nothing is spared in the lives of those involved. The goers know that their lives will end prematurely when they join a gang. What is their motive? The film shows that the founders of the MS13 are frustrated ex-soldiers from El Salvador. They were trained to kill and to have no conscience about it. Once defeated by the current regime in El Salvador, using millions of dollars and weapons from the Reagan governments in the 1980s, they are shunned and humiliated. In fact, they have to flee and are no longer safe for their lives.

Once they have fled to the United States, a new enemy awaits them: the Mexicans do not want the El Salvadorians. This is how groups of Mara Salvatrucha, better known as the MS13, are formed in El Salvador, but also in the US. These guys are callous, merciless and very violent. Ernesto Miranda, one of the founders, is now a father of two children in his late thirties. He has a belly and although still a gang member he is bored with it and thinks it is pointless. But in practice, more and more young people are joining this gang. More than 100,000 members in North and Central America make neighborhoods unsafe. The police play a dubious role. They claim to want to maintain peace and security, but often turn out to shoot gang members. You should see that as a kind of warning for the rest.

Gradually the whole gang life and what you have to do about it becomes a kind of chicken and the egg game. And where do you start with the solution to the problem? The governments of El Salvador and the US believe they have to crack down. They put plan Duro Mano (iron hand) into effect. Later it becomes Plan Super Duro Mano. But still an alarming number of new youngsters join the gangs. Apparently that hard hand doesn’t work anyway. The film does not protect you from the blood and the dead that come with this life. There is no false sentiment in the documentary but it does leave you in a state of confusion. You have seen a form of life that you do not want to know.

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