Just half a century after the massacre of October 2 in Tlatelolco, Amazon Prime premiered that day around those critical times A strange enemy, under the direction of Gabriel Ripstein, produced by Televisa. The unusual project of the company of the Azcárraga family is interpreted by Daniel Giménez Cacho as Fernando Barrientos (inspired by Fernando Gutiérrez Barrios); Hernán del Riego and Antonio de la Vega, in the role of presidents Díaz Ordaz and Echeverría, respectively, and screenwriter Carlos Pascual.
MEXICO CITY (Process) .- Televisa's "premium content" studio, called Televisa Alternative Originals (TAO), with a presence in Los Angeles, California, United States, and Mexico City, created the series A strange enemy: a vision of the struggle for the presidential succession and how that dispute for power permeated the student movement of 1968.
It is the Amazon Prime Video platform (from the American company of electronic commerce and cloud computing services called Amazon) that transmits this new Televisa content. A strange enemy is produced by Emilio Azcárraga Jean, Eduardo Clemesha and Leopoldo Gómez, among others.
It should be remembered that this company, with the father of Emilio Azcárraga Jean, Emilio Azcárraga Milmo, declared himself a PRI in the 1980s and included Televisa as an extension for being "evidently soldiers of the President of the Republic" (Proceso, 289); also, his heir apparently fulfilled the saying: "Like father, like son", because according to news sources (as the report of Jenaro Villamil in this weekly) Televisa planned a strategy to project Enrique Peña Nieto as a candidate presidential since 2005 (Proceso, 1861).
Even the film The Perfect Dictatorship, by Luis Estrada, recreates the theme in the same vein, and several pens have also emphasized that Televisa's ancestral broadcaster, Jacobo Zabludovsky, was "a conductor who completely embraced the wishes of the Revolutionary Party Institutional (PRI) and the president ". On July 2, 2015, after the death of Zabludosky, social networks recalled censorship in his newspaper Nescafé newspaper regarding the student massacre of 68 in Tlatelolco. The phrase "Today was a sunny day", which the journalist Zabludovsky said the next day, and whose story was narrated by Denise Dresser in this magazine (Proceso, 1571), stood out.
Before the 50th anniversary of the tragic event, advertising on the Internet and several spectacular CDMX to announce the premiere of A Strange Enemy, made on 2 October. For its main actors, the Televisa project, they maintain, "contains quality", "it is of the highest level", "it is made up of a good cast", "it is never too late to change", "it is necessary to talk about what happened", "It is an important issue so that it is not forgotten", "it indicates the desires of change that are being generated", and "the television market has changed".
Daniel Giménez Cacho (who for the first time is the main actor in a television series) plays in a strange enemy to Fernando Barrientos, inspired by the controversial politician Fernando Gutiérrez Barrios, but it is striking that the real name of the PRI in history does not appear , conformed by eight chapters.
"I think this project is positive, try to approach some idea of the truth, and as a society it seems therapeutic to talk about that," said Giménez Cacho, who has also stood out as an activist (for example, he is part of El Grito Más Fuerte, a citizen collective that does not belong to any political party, composed of people of art and culture in Mexico).
He is also asked to participate in the films of Jorge Fons' El callejón de los milagros, Colosio: The murder of Carlos Bolado, and The good-byes of Natalia Beristáin, what was his reflection when he learned that Televisa was in charge of this series, that said company was silent with respect to 68, and relates quietly:
"I thought: 'It's never too late!' We know that Televisa was always – as Don Azcárraga Milmo- soldier of the PRI said, and that has changed because that party no longer exists as such, now there will be another government. It is another political circumstance that forces them to offer other content, and that criticism that they kept quiet is real. I entered this proposal because it is well created and there is a freedom of content and absolute creative freedom. Besides, they approached Enrique Krauze, Héctor Águilar Camín and Jorge Castañeda, and other historians, which seems serious to me. "
-What convinced you to intervene in A strange enemy?
-First, the topic. Obviously it is a matter that could never be discussed, and then, that Televisa with Amazon were the ones that were producing; In addition, it was important for me to access a platform that reaches many nations. Well, do not forget that in the country only 30% of Mexicans have Internet … It is necessary to bring to light those events of 68, for all to build a memory of what happened. It is not yet clear how many deaths there were.
Amazon Prime Video covers more than 200 countries. A strange enemy was directed by Gabriel Ripstein, son of the outstanding filmmaker Arturo Ripstein, who appears a brief moment in the first chapter. Giménez Cacho continues his argument:
"The series does not intend to offer a global vision of everything that happened in '68. It focuses on how the political police of the State, together with Luis Echeverría, uses and manipulates the movement so that Echeverría remains as the next president of Mexico. That seemed important to me. You can see how the issue of the Olympic Games and the security in Mexico City became the protagonist of the then regent of the D.F., Alfonso Corona del Rosal. "
-How did your character based on Fernando Gutiérrez Barrios work?
– In the script a portrait of him is not described, there are many things of fiction; but there is a certain inspiration, and I did my research … I talked with people who knew him and worked for him. He is the villain of history. He had a mystique of service to the country, which he created, so that there would be social peace with methods such as torture, murder and disappearance. He is a very interesting character, through him we can understand much of what is the Mexican political culture.
– Do you think that Televisa changed?
-I think so because the market moved, it was transformed, and Televisa needs to demonstrate to society that it is capable of producing something other than telenovelas, for them it is important to also be in tune with the world in terms of the contents of the series. That new market has brought great things for us who are dedicated to this, because since Netflix came, let's say, there is a lot of work and variety. The media monopoly is over.
Eight hours of feature film
On the other hand, Hernán del Riego, actor, singer, stage director, composer and pedagogue, underlines to this medium that A strange enemy "is a very lucky approach" of Televisa. Follow:
"I'm glad we talked about it! It will be good that this political thriller contributes to give a little more nuance to the movement of 68, so that young people of 20 or 23 years can understand the struggles or political obsessions of their grandparents. We must remove the prejudices of saying that Televisa will do something as usual … It turns out that it is a spectacular television proposal. Finally Televisa and Amazon got together and achieved a good eight-hour feature film.
"There is no more abominable thing than The Rose of Guadalupe and other programs that maintain ignorance and machismo, anyway. All that we associate with Televisa, and A strange enemy confronted me with my prejudices. It is not the first time that Leopoldo Gómez makes this type of productions. Televisa seeks the opportunity to be a voice – uncontrolled as was Zabludovsky's – and fortunately we have just gone through an electoral democratic exercise. I think it's perfect to not forget and see ourselves with other eyes from within. "
Around his character, former Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, confesses that "it was a great experience to be able to enter their shoes and suddenly feel great". Firmly add:
"I learned to see a human being in different circumstances, with pressures of very diverse nature and as part of a political system that acts together. Being able to get rid of my personal vision and try to let a person live was very interesting, very worrying and very demanding. "
This is expressed with respect to the recall of plates with the name of Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, corresponding to the inauguration of the Metro, by the Head of Government of Mexico City, José Ramón Amieva, last week:
"It seems to me an excess, an opportunism now with the fifty years of the student movement of '68."
Desires for change
Antonio de la Vega raised 13 kilos to play Luis Echeverría. He did a lot of research work and observed interviews that he managed to achieve in order to "try to achieve his way of speaking and moving". Excited, he emphasizes:
"The truth is that the process was very rich. The script is excellent, they are actors and actresses that I respect a lot. From the first moment I read the script and saw the companies involved, it became important and necessary to remember that event. "
On the fact that the production has been in the hands of Televisa, the artist (who has worked not only on Mexican, but also Colombian and American productions in film, theater and television), commented that "that television station is the most questioned in Mexico, and its project , A strange enemy, indicates to us the desires of change that are being generated in the country, and not only on the part of the companies, but also of the population. There is an opening to talk about taboo topics. "
-Do you think the audience will believe Televisa?
-If we focus a lot on the fact that Televisa is presenting this, we can fall into issues of much demonization of the same taboos that the company has, and I think there are winds of change throughout the country and we should focus on that. The positive is that it is a project of the highest level. I'm sure people will like it.
They also act Irene Azuela, Pedro de Tavira, Javier Díaz Dueñas, Roberto Duarte, Karina Gidi and Carlos Juárez.
In the first chapter of the story, Fernando Barrientos orders torture. He is concerned about the law initiative that legislators have to put an end to the National Security Directorate, in which he is in charge. The guerrilla fighter Genaro Vázquez escapes from prison and Barrientos knows that he was freed by the regent of Mexico City, Corona Del Rosal. He informs Luis Echeverría that he wants to discredit him. President Diaz Ordaz is only interested in security in the capital for the Olympic Games. They tell Barrientos that Corona del Rosal will be the next president. He gets nervous, because nobody in the cabinet recognizes the National Security Directorate. He wants to find out everything and meets with an American CIA member. A Echeverría shows him the photos of the violence against the students in the Alameda Central and the demonstrations in Paris. And he says: "This is the beginning of your presidential campaign. If you allow me, you are going to be the next president of Mexico. "
"And why would I need your help, Fernando? Echeverria replies. And Barrientos:
-Because if not, you will lose and you know it. Together we can change this.
Silence. The telephone rings; but Echeverría does not answer it. Then he picks it up, and says to Barrientos: "I hear you commander …".
Carlos Pascual, one of the promoters of this series, tells how it came about:
"In 2008, with the creative team of Noticieros Televisa headed by Leopoldo Gómez, we took on the task of creating and writing two historical series that would be the contribution of Televisa to the Bicentennial celebrations. From this work emerged the series Screams of death and freedom, on Independence, and the charm of the eagle, on the Revolution. In both projects, I worked as a scriptwriter, and writers of the likes of Flavio González Mello, Ximena Escalante, Luis Mario Moncada and Xano Mendoza participated. The directors were Mafer Suarez and Gerardo Tort. We have the historical advice of the most important specialists in the subject and all currents.
"Encouraged by the success of these projects, we launched a series on the Cristero War that has not yet found an economic outlet for its realization. We wrote it Ximena Escalante and I and our historical advisor was Jean Meyer. After we decided to write a series on the Reformation, but the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the movement of '68 was approaching and the project was imposed. We created the same team: Leopoldo Gómez, Francisco García Ambriz, Mafer Suárez and me. We delineate its purposes and objectives and we start. "
"In the process, the director Gabriel Ripstein was invited to join as a showrunner (self-producer) and, of course, his vision prevailed. There were additions and subtractions in the project. The scriptwriters were Gibran Portela, César Gándara, Emma Bertrán, Daniel Kraus, Ripstein and myself. We had the opportunity to once again count on important historical advisors, as well as to interview those directly involved in the process. The research work (readings, interviews and fieldwork) was exhaustive. A strange enemy shows the absolute power of presidentialism that was unable to meet minimum demands from students. The series shows the brutal apparatus of social control that the PRI had. "
This text was published on October 7, 2018 in the 2188 edition of the magazine Proceso.