Luis Argueta

Luis Argueta

Filmmaker

“Modern migration is a continuation of extractive practices on the part of the industrialized north who pillage the last natural resource of the developing south, their youth. It is also a malevolent miracle by which the southern nations produce cheap labor, convert them into modern slaves who pay for their transportation to the modern industrial plantations where they have no rights, no protection and from which they will be discarded at the first sign of malfunctioning.”

Luis Argueta, a Guatemalan-born U.S. citizen, is a film director and producer, who has been telling transnational immigrant stories since 1977. Argueta’s 1994 film, El Silencio de Neto, was submitted in the foreign film category in the 67th Academy Awards, the first submission from Guatemala.

He is the first and only filmmaker to be awarded the Orden del Quetzal in the degree of Grand Officer, Guatemala’s highest honor. Argueta is considered one of Guatemala’s National Living “Icons,” alongside Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchu and Singer/Songwriter Ricardo Arjona.

In 2010, he released abUSed: The Postville Raid — a film about the devastating effects of U.S. immigration enforcement policies on children, families and communities. ABRAZOS (2014), the second film in Luis Argueta’s immigration trilogy, follows the journey of 14 children, U.S. citizens, from Minnesota to Guatemala to meet their grandparents — and in some instances their siblings — for the first time.

The National Peace Corps Association bestowed its highest honor, the Harris Wofford Global Citizen award, at the “Peace Corps Connect” Conference at the University of Texas in Austin to Luis Argueta, the first Latin American filmmaker, and Guatemalan, to be so recognized. Named in honor of U.S. Senator Harris Wofford, who was instrumental in the formation of the Peace Corps, the award is given annually to an outstanding global leader who grew up and lived in a country where Peace Corps Volunteers served, and whose life was influenced by the Peace Corps. Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Ken Lehman nominated Argueta for the award and was his professor as a Peace Corps volunteer at the University of Rafael Landivar, where he taught several scholarship recipients to U.S. Universities, including Argueta, who was to be an engineering student at the University of Michigan. Over the years, he would reveal that, “My experience with the Peace Corps taught me one of the valuable lessons of my life: To treat others as one would wish to be treated – the Golden Rule.”

Luis is already working on his next immigration film that will look at the long-lasting effects of family separations. Luis has inspired several of the production team of this documentary to help change the narrative around migrants with a focus on identifying solutions and opportunities represented by the existing immigration crisis. And as Luis put it, “At times like the present, when powerful winds of isolation and intolerance are blowing, it is more important than ever to speak, and to speak out – to find our commonality as human beings, roll up our sleeves and to work to nurture the hope for peace in the world.”