MARTINEZ DE HOZ

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Synopsis

One needs to know the great success of Awka Liwen to understand why this new documentary is necessary: the key to this new film if the law suit for the ban of our previous documentary being pursued by the Martínez de Hoz family and the Courtroom M of the National Civil Court, whose president, Matilde Díaz de Vivar, is a descendent of another of the oldest families of the Argentine oligarchy and a friend of the plaintiffs.

Awka Liwen premiered in September 2010 in the Cine Graumont in Buenos Aires. More than 3000 persons were present at the premier, and the film quickly assumed cult status. More than 10 million persons saw the documentary in film houses, schools, universities, unions, on television, at NGOs, in indigenous communities, through mass distribution in pirated format on the internet, street sales of pirated copies. Many parents baptized their children Awka Liwen, and a land takeover in Cipolletti was named after the film.

The documentary was incorporated into study programs in schools overseen by the National Ministry of Education, and it won five prizes at film festivals, having been nominated in more than twenty-five, including the International Festival of Political Filmmaking (where it won First Prize) and the New York Film Festival/Latinbeat.

Martínez de Hoz is the story of the law suit for the banning of Awka Liwen which claims that it “besmirches the honor of the Martínez de Hoz family,” as the plaintiffs assert in their suit. This family was the principal landowner in the country, and its members participated actively in all of Argentina’s dictatorships (the grandfather is the recently deceased former Minister of the Economy and civil chief of the dictatorship of former General Videla). It is also the economic history of the country as it developed in the counterpoint between the history that the Martínez de Hoz family recounts in its suit for banning of the film (in order to assert a non-existent family honor besmirched by Awka Liwen) and historical fact.

Consequently, we will detail the history of the Martínez de Hoz family and the creation of the National Argentine State and, consequently, its institutions as they relate to and serve the capital-generating oligarchies themselves. It is, in turn, the story of the Judicial Branch, which as Supreme Court Judge Eugenio Zaffaroni himself has said (in an interview conducted for this documentary) it never functioned more harmoniously with the Executive Power than it did in the period of “Agroexporting Argentina.” Therefore, it is also the basic history of why it is necessary to democratize the only power of the State anchored in the century before the Sáenz Peña Law (the law affirming a universal secret vote), the 19th century. Finally, it is the story of the very creation of the Argentine world view (Weltanshauung) of how Argentines see themselves in relation to their peers and the dominant oligarchies that shape them through the institutions those oligarchies created for their own benefit (such as the Argentine education system), how Argentines see themselves in relation to the world, and how they see all other nations.

These multiple histories are told through the narrative of Osvaldo Bayer, one of the interviewees chosen for their being among the best and most renowned researchers on each one of the themes developed in the documentary and the archival material consulted. The story, whose central axis is the scandalous persecution of our persons with the goal of banning Awka Liwen, impinges on different disciplines and historical periods and nations, toward offering a profound and complex analysis of the central conflict that the work engages with. To this effect, along with Osvaldo Bayer as the central narrative figure, the film archive in which José Alfredo Martínez de Hoz, Sr. functions as a sort of antagonist to Osvaldo, the false Martinez de Hoz and the interviewees, knowledge and the interrelationship between the themes of the documentary give force to dramatic progression in the film, producing an exciting story.

Case number N 1408/2011 contains an exciting story that lays bare the rudimentary details and the fanciful thinking of one of the most emblematic families of the Argentine oligarchy. This story, composed by José Alfredo (grandson) and Alejandro Martínez de Hoz in the legal brief arguing for the banning of the film, so radically far-removed from what the immense majority of the populace live and believe, is the backdrop against which we deconstruct the decision en banque of Courtroom M of the National Civil Chamber to institute a Kafkian judicial persecution against Awka Liwen and, in the process, to ignore the allegations of death threats against those being sued.


Motivation

In 2008 I wrote that my motivation for Awka Liwen was (paraphrasing Che Guevara) “My goal is to create one, two, three Awka Liwens.”

I was born a few days before Che Guevara’s assassination. We can say in retrospect that the idea of social change through armed struggle died with Che in Bolivia [in October 1967]. Osvaldo Bayer once told me about the conversation he had with Ernest Guevara at a dinner in Havana. Guevara explained to him that focus theory could be utilized in Argentina. Osvaldo asked him: “But what if you were attempting to take, for example, Río Cuarto, would the army go to put you down?” Guevara answered, “They’re all mercenaries.”
I grew up in the Argentina of the dictators Onganía, Levingston, Lanuse, Videla, Viola, Galtieri, and Bignone. Then in the limited democracies of Alfonsín, Menem, and Duhalde. I worked in Guatemala on the implementation of the Peace Accords between the guerrillas and that country’s sinister army. I understood the role that the Latin American elites played within their socities and with the powers of the industrialized countries, which was to permit the rampant exploitation of the vast majority in their countries in order to guarantee for themselves the situation of privilege within their societies as faithful guardians of neocolonialism.
I saw in 2008 how the major agribusiness corporations and the mass media attempted to overthrow Argentina’s elected government.
So, why then did I make Awka Liwen? Because I believe that change is possible through art, culture, and education.
A few months after the premier of Awka Liwen, the grandson of the economics minister and civil chief of the last dictatorship, José Alfredo (grandson) and Alejandro Martínez de Hoz, filed a law suit to ban Awka Liwen because, according to them, what we show in the film with reference to their great great great grandfather, José Toribio Martínez de Hoz, does “damage to the family’s honor.”
This distant relative of the two young men seeking to ban the film was the first president of Sociedad Rural Argentina (S.R.A., Argentine Rural Society) and one of the principal sponsors and backers of the so-called “Desert Campaign” of J.A. Roca and the S.R.A. Thus, with the elimination of the original peoples from these territories, José Toribio Martínez de Hoz received 2,500,000 hectares (9,653 square miles), consolidating his position as the country’s largest landowner. We also refer in Awka Liwen to the grandfather of the plaintiffs (who at the time of the suit was still alive), but his grandsons do not base their lawsuit on what we also prove with respect to their close living relative (at the time), but rather on what we narrate concerning a public figure from the time of Juan Manuel Rosas. The reason is that their grandfather was in prison for the serious crimes against humanity committed while he was the strongman of the Videla, Massera, and Agosti dictatorships, and it would be ridiculous for them to allege that the damage to the family honor was caused by Awka Liwen and not by their genocidal grandfather.
The trial against Awka Liwen fell by lottery to four judges of whom three were named during the very same dictatorship of the grandfather of the plaintiffs. I received death threats and aggressions of all sorts and I continue to be under the threat of a lawsuit, along with Osvaldo Bayer and Felipe Pigna, for making a documentary based on irrefutable historiographic proof. Judicial persecution and the threats continue up to the present.
Explanation of the nature of this judicial aberration is what motivates me to make this documentary, called Martínez de Hoz, again along with Osvaldo Bayer.

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