Documentary Vietnam, Puerto Rico Favorite 



May 13 2017


Vietnam, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico doesn’t know what’s going on here, and if they do, they’re ignoring us.” So opens Gabriel Miranda’s documentary Vietnam, Puerto Rico. Focused on the coastal community of Vietnam, which is located in the Guaynabo, the doc tells the story of a disenfranchised population being displaced over the past two decades to make room for a glitzy new waterfront development. Involving legal intimidation tactics, adversarial interactions with the police as well as a local government that seemed more intent on gentrifying the area for high-end tourism at the expense of families who’d lived there for decades, what’s been going on at Vietnam speaks to larger issues in the island.

The film carefully explains both the history of Vietnam (including its association with that South-East Asian war) as well as the complicated legal battles that have characterized the life of its residents for the past two decades. Speaking with community leaders, local residents, legal experts—though, curiously, no government officials, all of which declined to be interviewed—Miranda paints a picture of a neighborhood under siege. Just watching the many shots of dilapidated down buildings that his camera captures is enough to make you understand how strategic this displacement process has been. What easier way to make the case for a neighborhood to be cleaned up and torn down than systematically displacing people, demolishing their houses and leaving the rubble out in the open to accumulate?

Offering what Miranda told Remezcla is a story that has been mostly kept out of the public eye, Vietnam, Puerto Rico is a lesson in civic activism as well as a reminder of the cost of gentrification. With bright-colored images of the community and a guitar score composed by Miranda himself, the doc is required viewing for all those invested in local Puerto Rican politics.

Posted by tmenar on

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Because it was a small, independent film not many audiences got to watch it. It made it to festivals such as the San Diego Latino Film Festival but didn't really call much attention from the local community. Since the release of the documentary, the court decision about the illegal maneuvers on the government's part favored the Vietnam community but they still continue to battle for their right to remain on the land.