Cuban American Dream Timeline

By: Katiana M. Bagué

“Once on the boat, we had to wait for permission to sail. We waited and waited, but the Cuban government did not grant permission until a storm began. The storm and the mysterious companions made the passage to Miami dangerous and long.”

This excerpt comes from a longer testimony made by Roniel Cabrera, Associate Professor of Medicine at UF’s Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition, who at eight years old was part of the thousands of Cubans who participated in the Mariel Boatlift. This testimony along with books, photographs and a collection of government documents, spanning from the sixteenth to the twenty-first century, was compiled and showcased in the Cuban American Dream, an exhibit curated by Margarita Vargas-Betancourt with assistance from Alexis Baldacci. It was put on display in the Smathers Library Gallery from March 27th to June 2nd 2017, and it encouraged audiences to look at different perspectives regarding Cuban immigration to Florida. For instance, it analyzed the strife of Cuban-Americans as they adjusted to their new homeland and worked to attain a vision of the “American Dream.” I was fortunate enough to see this exhibit and as I wandered through the gallery space reading the materials in the display cases, I felt immersed in the Cuban immigration history. Because its stories can easily go underrepresented, it is crucial to tell them.

The exhibit, both innovative and engaging, seemed short lived. With the university’s Latin American and Caribbean Collection constantly acquiring new materials related to Cuban history, and with a large population of Cuban-Americans within the campus community, the information from the exhibit was both significant and relevant. Thus in order to continue to broadcast its content and the discussion about Cuban immigration, and immigration in general, within academic and community settings, Margarita and Alexis envisioned the creation of a digital timeline.

On October 2017, I was awarded the ARL Fellowship for Digital and Inclusive Excellence, an internship that allowed me to work closely with Margarita on digital projects for the Latin American and Caribbean Collection. When she presented me the timeline idea, I was both motivated and excited to be a part of a project I had interacted with before. A timeline was an appropriate format for this digital exhibit considering that its physical counterpart spanned a long time period. The project not only required me to transfer the information from the physical exhibit to a digital format, but also to create new labels to include the most recent events of Cuban immigration to Florida. These were especially significant given the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba (2014) and the subsequent slowdown of such process.

In this day and age, it seems that digital projects have become more doable and accessible. Timeline JS, an open source tool from, helps users create visually engaging digital timelines with a simple four-step process. With a Google spreadsheet, I was able to add text alongside significant dates, and insert images in jpeg format that were eventually displayed digitally in the timeline presentation.  After this process, the final product was published unto the George A. Smathers webpage for online exhibits.

The Cuban American Dream Timeline not only preserves the original exhibit showcased back in 2017, but it also offers audiences an interesting interactive online experience. The viewer can engage with the archival material from the exhibit section by section, which can allow for deeper reflections and connections regarding the history of Cuban immigration to Florida. As proven with the recent presentations done by Margarita, the timeline can also be an engaging learning tool in classroom settings. It not only presents valuable information, but it can also inspire students to pursue their own digital projects related to their studies and research.

The timeline can be accessed here:



Aurora de Mena (Cuban),

The pearl key, or midnight and dawn in Cuba,


Vance Print. Co.,

972.911 M534t,

Rare Book Collection, Special & Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida




Arnold Eagle,

Cuban man talking on the phone, circa 1950-1960,

Special & Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida







Refugees are processed inside a hangar in Key West’s Truman Naval Base. Miami Herald



Archives Leadership Institute 2017

By: Liz Zepeda


I didn’t always gravitate toward leadership roles. Growing up I wasn’t necessarily encouraged to take on leadership roles and I never thought of myself as a natural leader. But when I started graduate school and started learning about archives and the immense power they held, I realized that I wanted to share this whole new world with everyone. More specifically, I wanted communities that traditionally have been underrepresented in archives to see themselves in history. Since then I’ve dedicated myself to exploring different ways of engaging the community in the archive whether it be through primary source materials or encouraging community members to think about their personal history as an archive.

I applied for the Archives Leadership Institute (ALI) after a few colleagues told me about their experiences. While writing the application, I reflected on where I saw myself in the field, what I thought a leader represented and how I wanted to change the field if not the world. We also had to think about a project that we would develop at the ALI. I did not know what to expect, and on my flight to the institute, I was intimidated. Once I arrived in Kentucky, everyone was nice, and it felt amazing to be with so many archivists. Everyone had a diverse range expertise and worked in different types of institutions.



We stayed at the Boone Tavern for a week and took classes at Berea College on various subjects, but leadership was at the center of all of them. Before coming to the ALI, we all had to complete a survey from the book, “Strength based leadership: Great leaders, teams, and why people follow” by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie and learned our top five strengths. In our classes, we learned more about these strengths, how to lead with our strengths, how to work with our colleague’s strengths, about cultural competence, and how to manage our projects.

In addition to our classes, we had collaborative activities and ice breakers. We got to know each other during breaks, lunch, dinners, and after classes. We also the opportunity to get to know the Berea College campus with a tour of the Special Collections, we made a broom in the Broom Making Studio, and we got to hear bell hooks speak. We also did some hiking on the Indian Mountain Trail at the Berea College Forest, and I have to say that it was one of the hardest things I did.


All in all this experience changed my life. I met so many amazing people with so much insight. The classes broke down the nuts and bolts of leadership, productivity, and project management. I have also made lifelong friends. I am forever grateful to Rachel Vagts, Mark Nigro, everyone in the steering committee and my fellow ALI cohort 17 members for this experience. The Archives Leadership Institute changed how I see the world and how I see myself.



Rath, Tom, and Barry Conchie. Strengths based leadership: Great leaders, teams, and why people follow. Simon and Schuster, 2008.

Un Archivo Audiovisual para Baja California Sur

Note: The following contribution is Lefteris Becerra’s text of the Desmantelando Barreras/ Breaking Down Borders webinar presentation from last March 27, 2017.

by Lefteris Becerra Correa, estudiante de maestría del posgrado en Ciencias Sociales, Desarrollo Sustentable y Globalización, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur, México

La propuesta de crear un Archivo Audiovisual en Baja California Sur (BCS) surge en primera instancia de la práctica de la exhibición alternativa independiente en los cineclubes de La Paz, la capital. El reconocimiento de los límites de esa práctica (una función por semana en espacios no diseñados para esos propósitos, sin contar con recursos financieros para las actividades), y el hecho de que no existen instituciones locales dedicadas al cine y otros medios audiovisuales, son parte de las razones que me llevan a pensar en la propuesta de un Archivo Audiovisual (AA) local.

Aunque en México existen instituciones de preservación fílmica como la Filmoteca de la UNAM (fundada en 1960) y la Cineteca Nacional (1974), ambos archivos se encuentran en la capital de la República, muy alejados de nuestro estado. Además, pese a que en el capítulo VIII de la Ley General de Cinematografía, dedicado a la Cineteca Nacional, en su artículo 39 establece que es obligación de los productores o distribuidores depositar una copia de toda película exhibida en el país, esto parece no cumplirse del todo[1]; por ello es pertinente que la preservación de los materiales cinematográficos relacionados con BCS se realice de manera local.

La investigación propuesta tiene como objetivo identificar las condiciones de posibilidad de creación de un archivo que resguarde y difunda la cultura cinematográfica de BCS y del mundo. El archivo audiovisual sería de carácter cultural, así que la investigación se propuso también examinar el contexto más amplio del cine en México y BCS para tratar de entender las coordenadas sobre las que se podría instituir un AA.

El cine en cifras

En resumen: las producciones hollywoodenses ocupan el 90% de las más de 6,225 pantallas que hay en México. En BCS hay 75 pantallas (el 1.20%) y en 2016 se estrenaron 25 películas mexicanas, mientras en todo el país se estrenaron 90. La producción ha ido en aumento, en 2016 se alcanzó la marca histórica de 162 películas nacionales realizadas, de modo que no es la escasez lo que origina el reducido número de películas mexicanas estrenadas. Del cine del resto del mundo, sólo llegan cantidades marginales que no guardan ninguna relación con las cifras de producción del mundo entero. El casi monopolio del cine estadounidense ahoga al cine nacional que se queda sin ventana de exhibición, provocando lo que el realizador Paul Leduc (2016) llama la “invisibilidad del cine mexicano”; todo ello bajo el crecimiento sostenido del aumento de la asistencia a salas, 9.5% en promedio del 2009 al 2016, con la marca histórica del último año en 321 millones de entradas vendidas.

El espacio simbólico del cine en disputa

Para entender esta realidad, es útil revisar un episodio de la historia económico-política contemporánea relacionada con el cine, en los tiempos en que se empezó a instrumentar el actual modelo neoliberal: la Ronda Uruguay del Acuerdo General sobre Aranceles Aduaneros y Comercio (conocido por sus siglas en inglés como GATT), en específico las negociaciones multilaterales sobre la liberalización de los servicios audiovisuales (1990). Ahí se enfrentaron dos modos de concebir el cine: el de países como Francia vs. Estados Unidos. Una postura sostenía que debido a la dimensión cultural de los bienes y servicios audiovisuales, se debía ejercer una excepción, y permitir que los diferentes países adoptaran medidas para la protección de sus mercados e industrias, mientras que la otra, defendida por Estados Unidos, abogaba por un tratamiento del cine idéntico al de otras mercancías para las que ya se habían tomado acuerdos de desregulación mercantil.

Las dos posiciones en pugna revelan una confrontación que sigue viva hasta nuestros días (y que hunde sus raíces hasta los años de la Primera Guerra Mundial) aunque en los quince años posteriores a las discusiones en el GATT el argumento de la excepción cultural evolucionó hacia un consenso casi mundial a favor de la diversidad cultural promovida por la UNESCO (2005), sólo votada en contra por Estados Unidos e Israel. En México, el modelo que opera respecto del cine, a pesar de la adopción de la Convención sobre la Diversidad Cultural de la UNESCO y de la legislación cinematográfica vigente que reconoce el carácter cultural del cine, es el meramente mercantil con una clara inclinación a favor de los intereses empresariales estadounidenses.

Pese a ello, existen diversas instituciones y múltiples esfuerzos que ponen el acento en la dimensión cultural del cine. De hecho es en estas opciones en las que ocurren los atisbos de diversidad acordes con la Convención citada. La Cineteca Nacional, por ejemplo, con un millón de asistentes durante 2016, proyectó 50 de las 90 películas mexicanas estrenadas en todo el país, con un 24% de asistencia al cine nacional (el porcentaje de taquilla en todo el país fue de 9.5). Contar con una institución de ese tipo en BCS resulta relevante para una sociedad que no tiene opciones de exhibición cinematográfica fuera del acceso a las plataformas digitales que hay en Internet y que excluyen a grandes sectores de la población que no cuentan con acceso a la red.

Preservación fílmica latinoamericana

Por otra parte, si nos remitimos a la historia de la preservación fílmica en Latinoamérica, que aunque comienza en México en la década de 1930, cuenta con un capítulo de su historia que es central en la lucha por consolidar una cultura cinematográfica regional, cuya razón de ser era exhibir la producción propia y su objetivo contribuir a la lucha de las décadas de 1960 y 1970 por la liberación en los países en los que se padecía la opresión de las dictaduras o el neocolonialismo denunciado, por ejemplo, por el Grupo Liberación argentino en su emblemático film La hora de los hornos (1968).

Janet Ceja (2013) ha reconstruido parte de la historia de la preservación fílmica en Latinoamérica, centrándose en un episodio central que unió e involucró muchos de estos esfuerzos en diferentes países desde México hasta Argentina y Chile, pasando por Centroamérica y el Caribe, en la Unión de Cinematecas de América Latina (UCAL; fundada en 1965), que seguía un principio de preservación volcado por completo a la praxis social, afín con el modelo seguido en la Cinemateca francesa bajo la guía de su secretario general y cofundador, Henri Langlois, quien desde la década de 1950 había brindado ayuda a los archivos latinoamericanos de diferentes modos, sobre todo prestando filmes de la colección de la Cinemateca para su exhibición en tierras americanas. El cine que se produjo por parte del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano (1967), con la contribución decisiva de las organizaciones miembro de la UCAL, estaba comprometido socialmente con las luchas populares, llevando a cabo una tarea de combate ideológico bajo diferentes posturas y propuestas, contra la hegemonía cinematográfica estadounidense, pues los intereses de las empresas de ese origen dictaban las condiciones de las diferentes cinematografías nacionales, además de que los filmes de aquel origen eran percibidos como una de las tantas estrategias de neocolonización.

Este hito en la historia de la preservación es digno de recordarse y recuperarse pues aunque el contexto político, social y cultural de nuestra actualidad en la segunda década del siglo XXI, ha cambiado respecto de las realidades vividas en Latinoamérica entonces, también se verifica la continuidad en muchas dimensiones y condiciones que han sufrido no una recomposición o desaparición sino incluso una intensificación gracias a la instauración global del neoliberalismo. Un ejemplo elocuente es la hegemonía cinematográfica estadounidense que en las décadas recientes sólo se ha reforzado en un proceso en el que anula o neutraliza la mayoría de los reclamos que los grupos de profesionales dirigen a sus respectivos gobiernos para que se adopten medidas de protección frente a las desregulaciones neoliberales.

Filmografía de BCS

Volviendo a la realidad contemporánea en BCS, la presente investigación se propuso elaborar un catálogo de identificación de las películas relacionadas con BCS, un requisito previo (y presupuesto en el señalamiento de la carencia de instituciones relacionadas con el patrimonio audiovisual del estado). El catálogo lleva hasta el momento 80 registros con filmes pertenecientes a cinco categorías posibles:

  1. Películas sobre BCS (sobre alguna historia que ocurre ahí, .
  2. Películas realizadas en BCS.
  3. Películas de creadores y artistas locales.
  4. La combinación de 1 y 2.
  5. La combinación de 1, 2 y 3.

La mayoría de los registros pertenecen a producciones del siglo XXI, aunque también hay otros de diferentes décadas del s. XX. La metodología aplicada para la elaboración del catálogo consistió en entrevistas a personas relacionadas con la cultura en BCS, consultas en los archivos fílmicos nacionales, en bases de datos de archivos de México y de otras partes del mundo, así como en fuentes hemerográficas y bibliográficas. De la visualización de poco más de la mitad de los registros se ha obtenido la noción clara de la valía cultural del material que configura una diversidad interesante y que puede ser del interés de los habitantes del estado, así como una fuente fértil para la investigación.

Por una globalización incluyente

La propuesta del archivo audiovisual estatal recupera de la historia de la preservación fílmica latinoamericana el énfasis puesto en la orientación social de los archivos o cinematecas agrupados en la UCAL, aunque considerando las transformaciones económicas, políticas y sociales que han sucedido en las últimas cuatro décadas. Un ejemplo de ello es el componente jurídico y las políticas públicas mediante las cuales el Estado mexicano le da forma y sentido a la actividad cinematográfica nacional, un campo de lucha también entre la postura del Estado neoliberal y la que defienden las agrupaciones de profesionales del cine; en resumen, estamos ante una economía-política del cine de carácter neoliberal, con trazas de la visión del campo cultural que se reflejan en asuntos como el apoyo del Estado a la producción y la política de preservación, siempre en riesgo de ser eliminados, de acuerdo con los intereses de los representantes en México de la Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), con el respaldo gubernamental mexicano.

La invisibilidad de las representaciones cinematográficas sobre BCS configura su inexistencia, que con un archivo como el formulado tendrían un espacio en el que los interesados podrían acceder a ese material cultural hasta ahora condenado al olvido. En el contexto contemporáneo de la globalización neoliberal es de primera importancia para las poblaciones de los países “subdesarrollados” como México, el que los grupos que las componen, cuenten con representaciones audiovisuales, de preferencia elaboradas por ellos mismos, que promuevan la memoria de su territorio y las formas de vivirlo; en el caso de Sudcalifornia, inextricablemente unido a las culturas que ahí se han desarrollado, amenazadas de despojo y con ello, de desaparición. La intensidad de los debates y las disputas desde la época de la Primera Guerra Mundial hasta el capítulo contemporáneo de la excepción cultural, denotan el ámbito de influencia estratégica que el cine representa para las partes en discordia.

El espacio del Archivo debería servir para practicar otro tipo de globalización, una no centrada en el dinero, sino en el intercambio cultural, una ventana a la auténtica diversidad cultural expresada en las creaciones de todo el mundo, panorama en el que BCS debe encontrar su lugar con sus producciones simbólicas, las representaciones cinematográficas portadoras de las identidades, valores y tradiciones que componen su sociedad en su diversidad y complejidad. Un espacio para que, como dice Godard, las películas dialoguen entre sí.

Mirando al pasado y al futuro

La relación del archivo con los filmes sobre BCS es la introducción de la perspectiva de la memoria,  un ejercicio de recuperación de la memoria cinematográfica. Además, el archivo también debería estar orientado hacia el desarrollo de las capacidades audiovisuales, aplicando la teoría del desarrollo humano de Martha Nussbaum (2012) a esa característica que forma parte de nuestra realidad y que algunos autores llaman “era visual” (Mirzoeff, 2003). Con ambas proyecciones temporales, una mirando hacia el pasado con la continua revisión del patrimonio cinematográfico local y mundial, y la otra volcada hacia el futuro mediante la creación de capacidades audiovisuales entre la población local, en especial la juventud. En la actualidad tampoco existen instituciones encargadas de ello, los jóvenes interesados en la producción deben salir del estado para desarrollar sus capacidades, como es el caso de César Talamantes, autor del reconocido documental Los otros californios (2008), quien tuvo que ir a la Ciudad de México a estudiar en el Centro Universitario de Estudios Cinematográficos de la UNAM.

A continuación un demo (6’37’’) de Los otros californios (2008) preparado por César Gutiérrez, director de fotografía del documental de César Talamantes, un retrato de diferentes rancheros de Baja California Sur, que es un ejemplo de los materiales que forman parte de la filmografía de BCS.


Ceja Alcalá, J. (2013, Spring). Imperfect Archives and the Principle of Social Praxis in the History of Film Preservation in Latin America. The Moving Image, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 66-97. Recuperado de

Convención de la UNESCO sobre la Protección y Promoción de la Diversidad de las Expresiones Culturales [versión electrónica]. (2005). Recuperada de

Huerta, C. (2017, abril 17). México hace, estrena y desecha películas. El Universal. Recuperado de

Leduc, P. (2016, mayo 29). El invisible cine mexicano y la Secretaría de Cultura. La Jornada. Recuperado de

Mirzoeff, N. (2003). Una introducción a la cultura visual. Barcelona: Paidós.

Nussbaum, M. (2012). Crear capacidades: Propuesta para el desarrollo humano. Barcelona: Paidós.


En relación con una pregunta del público sobre si existe algún material relacionado con grupos indígenas de BCS, sí lo hay, se trata de un documental experimental sobre la celebración de la Semana Santa por parte de la comunidad yaqui de Santa Rosalía, Desierto indígena (2017) de Elti Alejandro, que será estrenada a finales de mayo de 2017 en la Ciudad de México y en el verano en La Paz. El autor, artista visual de La Paz, se acercó a la comunidad de yaquis de Santa Rosalía y solicitó su permiso para hacer su trabajo.

A la pregunta de si piensa mostrarles el trabajo, expresó que sí es de su interés hacerlo y que incluso intentó mostrarles el corte previo pero, aparentemente, la cuenta de Facebook por la que los solía contactar, ha desaparecido. Se le comunicó la inquietud de la pregunta formulada desde ¿Colorado, Arizona?, sobre la importancia de contar con el permiso de la comunidad y lo delicado de exponer una ceremonia sagrada en el trabajo documental, a lo cual respondió que la solicitud de hacer su corto había sido aceptada e incluso, comentó, ellos mismos solían compartir sus registros de la ceremonia en su cuenta de Facebook. Al ver el corte preliminar, quien escribe esto, identifica una aproximación respetuosa y dignificante de una comunidad tradicionalmente ignorada y despreciada. De cualquier modo será muy interesante poder conocer la opinión de la comunidad yaqui misma; el plan del artista es compartir el valioso documento —uno de los pocos que existen sobre indígenas en BCS— de forma libre en la red, de modo que todo interesado podrá tener acceso libre a él.

[1] Según nota periodística (Huerta, 2017), en el periodo 2010-2015 se realizaron 700 películas mexicanas, de las cuáles sólo 250 depositaron una copia en la Cineteca Nacional y 13 en la Filmoteca de la UNAM.

LLILAS Benson Launches Latin American Digital Initiatives Repository

Theresa Polk, Archivist, and Melanie Cofield, Metadata Coordinator, UT Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin


[Please note: Theresa Polk will be speaking on the LADI project at the next Desmantelando Fronteras / Breaking Down Borders on Friday, January 29. See details on Memoria or click here.]

In 2014, LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections at the University of Texas at Austin received a planning grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to pilot a post-custodial approach to international archival collaboration. Under the auspices of the grant, LLILAS Benson partnered with three archival institutions in Central America to digitize selected holdings, both facilitating the long-term preservation of unique historical materials and making them accessible to a global audience through the Latin American Digital Initiatives (LADI) online repository.

Homepage for Latin American Digital Initiatives–LADI.

In developing the project, LLILAS Benson explicitly adopted an approach to archival collaboration informed by post-custodial theory. Rather than physically taking custody of partners’ collections, LLILAS Benson provided consultation, digitization equipment, and archival training in preservation, arrangement, metadata, and digitization. Partner institutions prioritized the materials to be included in the project, conducted the digitization work, and created descriptive metadata. This approach allowed our partners to retain physical and intellectual control over their collections throughout the project.

Project partners included the Centro de Investigación y Documentación de la Costa Atlántica – CIDCA (Nicaragua), the Centro de Investigaciones Regionales de Mesoamérica – CIRMA (Guatemala), and the Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen – MUPI (El Salvador). CIDCA digitized an estimated 900 issues of La Información, a local newspaper that covered the economic, social and political life of Bluefields, Nicaragua from 1917 through 1998. CIRMA digitized approximately 4,700 news clippings on the theme of violence in Guatemala during the years of 1978-1981 from the Inforpress Centroamericana archive, one of the most highly consulted collections in their holdings. MUPI digitized a variety of solidarity and propaganda materials, including posters, pamphlets, and publications from the Salvadoran conflict, from 1979 to 1992.

The resulting digital collections are made available online in collaboration with the University of Texas Libraries, utilizing the open source Fedora/Islandora repository framework. For UT Libraries, the project served as a test case for in-house development with Islandora, helping to identify resource, staffing, and workflow requirements for bringing additional UT collections online.

La Informacíon documented the economic, social, and political life of Bluefields, Nicaragua.

Optimizing descriptive metadata for use in the Islandora environment proved to be one of the most critical and time-consuming aspects of the project. Out-of-the-box Islandora requires use of the Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS), a bibliographic metadata standard, for batch ingest purposes, so we started by mapping the raw metadata we received from partners to the MODS schema. The granularity of MODS enables fine control over the indexing, search, and display of metadata in the interface. MODS also includes detailed attributes that allowed us to indicate the language of each element value, reference both external and local authorities, and embed Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs) in anticipation of future linked data functionality. Customizing MODS “note” fields gave us flexibility to accommodate valuable information that didn’t otherwise neatly fit within the MODS schema, such as extended descriptions for some materials, designation of objects for curated site displays, and location information for related digital master files. Once we mapped the metadata to MODS and normalized across collections for a cohesive user experience, we utilized tools such as OpenRefine and oXygen to further clean, standardize, and format the metadata in preparation to ingest the digital files into Islandora.

While the granularity and flexibility of MODS is advantageous in many respects, it does present practical and ethical challenges in the context of a project like this one. Practically, there is the need to reconcile archival and bibliographic description. Ethically, we felt compelled to think critically about imposing a U.S.-based descriptive standard on the collections – pondering whether it undermined the post-custodial intent of the project (particularly given the historical context and subject matter of the collections) and whether valuable context might be lost in translation.

The Inforpress Centroamericana collection documents violence in Guatemala during the years 1978-1981. It is on of the most frequently consulted research collections held by the Centro de Investigaciones Regionales de Mesoamérica–CIRMA.

Continuing in the post-custodial vein, we prioritized Spanish as our “language of cataloguing” since our partners had created the initial descriptive metadata in Spanish. We originally expected to create a fully bilingual repository, but quickly realized we would need to make some compromises, given timeframe, resource, and platform constraints. While we have been able to translate static website text and implement a bilingual interface, the multilingual nature of the metadata — including the original Spanish description, supplementary English MODS fields, and in some cases titles or descriptions in the language of the resource (German, Italian, French, etc.) — complicates the metadata display. We had to be content with adding translations where feasible and including a language tag for each value in the XML for ease of reuse and programmatic operations. Ongoing metadata enhancement via grant-funded or student-driven projects will help to smooth out lingering issues.

As the digital repository finally began to take shape, it was tremendously exciting to see how the metadata facilitated these disparate collections talking to one another and to other Benson digital collections. Articles in La Información offer a Nicaraguan perspective on the Guatemalan coup in 1954. The Salvadoran and Guatemalan collections provide a glimpse into how both repression and resistance were internationalized during the height of the Central American conflicts. The posters and clandestine publications in MUPI’s collections contribute a visually engaging complement to the Radio Venceremos recordings. And in some cases, we have been able to link news clippings from the Inforpress collection to records in the Digital Guatemalan National Police Historical Archive. As the site continues to evolve, new collections are added, and researchers begin to actively engage it, we hope it will facilitate new insights into human rights scholarship in the region.

Rodrigo Moya Retrospective

by Erik García

The Wittliff Collections at Texas State University recently celebrated noted Latin American photographer Rodrigo Moya (b. 1934) with the first retrospective and publication of his work in the United States. Rodrigo Moya: Photography and Conscience/Fotografía y conciencia, features over 90 images from Moya’s career, with much of the content focusing on the various political developments in Latin America during the 1950s and 1960s. The artist gave a talk at the gallery on November 15, 2015, during which he gave an overview of his life and work.

From Rodigo Moya presentation, Texas State University, Nov. 15, 2015

Despite Moya’s initial intent of becoming an engineer, the combination of his indifference to the math courses at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and growing interest in the volatile social and political climate in Latin America led him to begin his photographic career in 1955.

Moya’s work can be divided between portraiture of various famous characters of the era (Che Guevera, Celia Cruz, Gabriel García Márquez, David Alfaro Siquieros), and anonymous unstaged shots. As noted by Moya’s wife Susan Flaherty, contrast in his work can be seen from the more formal compositions tied to various journalistic assignments versus the street photography that came from his curiosity and tendency to walk as much as possible.

Gabriel García Márquez, 1967, Mexico City, photo by Rodrigo Moya. Image courtesy of the Wittliff Collections.

Despite producing the iconic images “Guerillas in the Mist” and “Melancholy Che” during the first phase of his career, Moya’s displeasure for the self-censorship that much of the Mexican press employed in the 1960s led to his retirement from photojournalism. Subsequently, the second phase of Moya’s career can be summarized in the photographic and written compositions he created for the magazine Técnica Pesquera, which he founded and edited from 1968-1991. These images portray the small fishing village where he lived, its inhabitants, and the natural world.

Marlin and Bicycle, 1969, Mazatlán, Sinoaloa, photo by Rodrigo Moya. Image courtesy of the Wittliff Collections.

Throughout the presentation, Moya discussed his work in relation to that of other photographers held by the Wittliff Collections, such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Nacho López, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, and Tina Modotti.

Moya ended his presentation by acknowledging the third phase of his career, which began in 1999 through the reexamination of his archives. The renewed interest and celebration of his work can be recognized in the two years of planning that went into the book, published by UT Press and edited by David Coleman, as well as the exhibition curated by Carla Ellard. The exhibition is also part of FOTOSEPTIEMBRE USA, the annual international photography festival based in San Antonio, Texas.

Also present at the event were Susan Flaherty, who translated during the talk; and historian Ariel Arnal, who wrote the of the essay included in the book. Arnal joined Moya for a Q&A and book signing for guests after the talk.

Moya chats and signs books after his talk. Photo credit: Katie Salzmann.

“Rodrigo Moya: Photography and Conscience/Fotografia y conciencia” is on view through July 3, 2016 at the Wittliff Gallery at Texas State University, San Marcos Texas.

The Luis García Pimentel Collection: Tale of a Hidden Treasure

June 12 1532. Deed of purchase of land inhabited by indigenous people, and a request to sell the same land to Bernardino de Santa Clara.

by: Ana D. Rodríguez

In January 2015, I embarked on an archival adventure that led me to process a collection that dates back to early Spanish colonial times in Mexico.  The Luis García Pimentel Collection is a manuscripts collection from the Latin American and Caribbean Collection (LACC) at the University of Florida Smathers Library. Named after a respected Mexican scholar who comes from a long line of descendants from Spanish Conquistador Hernán Cortes, the García Pimentel Collection is a journey to a lesser-known history of Mexico. Primarily, it uncovers the development of the sugar industry in Mexico, particularly in the states of Morelos and Puebla. Most of the documents in this collection are centered in two sugar mills: Hacienda Santa Ana de Tenango and Hacienda Santa Clara Montefalco. Luis García Pimentel (1855-1930) inherited Santa Ana de Tenango from his father Joaquín García Icazbalceta and during his administration the hacienda reached its heyday through a series of industrial innovations to improve the production and distribution of sugar. García Pimentel was also a respected scholar, who just like his father Joaquín, forged a career as a historian and bibliographer.

June 26, 1709. Testament of doña Luisa de Villagra Gutiérrez Villaseñor that includes a clause to grant freedom right after her dead to her slaves, Nicolás de Saucedo, his wife Tomasa Gutiérrez, and their children Cristóbal and María Teresa de Saucedo.

To collect and retrieve the information contained in this collection, paleography, the study of ancient handwriting, was intensely implemented. This skill has been paramount to understanding the customs, the Spanish language style of colonial Mexico, and most importantly, the communication and management of working relationships. For example, most business relationships were handled through an intermediary who represented the interests of the García Icazbalceta brothers, who were owners, at one point, of the Hacienda Santa Ana de Tenango. The intermediary or middleman was usually an escribano real, or an official representative of the Spanish crown, who had the authority to compose an affidavit or a deed of sale on behalf of the family.

Another interesting fact of this collection is that we were able to find and record dates on the documents. The oldest document is from 1532, around nine years after the Conquest of Mexico (1521), and the latest dated document is from March 29, 1926.

1700. Testimony of titles and mercedes (rewards) related to the sugar mill Santa Ana de Tenango, located in Jonacatepec, owned by don Juan Francisco de Urtaza and bestowed to his heir, don Joseph Antonio Salvide Goitia.

The Luis García Pimentel contains mostly documents of legal nature, detailing aspects of ownership and administrative matters of the haciendas. Mercedes (rewards), affidavits, licenses, deeds of sale of land and cattle, testimonies and wills detailing the fate of a slave are just a few sample documents found in this collection. Another salient aspect of this collection is that although Spanish was the ruling language at the time, a small portion of the documents are also written in Náhualt, an indigenous language spoken by the Aztecs.

Documents in the Luis García Pimentel Collection demonstrate the power of the Catholic Church not only as part of the state but also as proprietor of land and sugar mills. Throughout the process of reading to extract information from the bundles of documents, it was revealed that the order of Jesuits Priests in Morelos owned a private school named Colegio de San Pedro y San Pablo (Saints Peter and Paul School), and it possessed a plot of land with access to a nearby river that was used for cattle and a sugar mill. During the sixteenth to mid eighteenth centuries, haciendas were the epicenter of activities pertaining not only to sugar, but agriculture and cattle as well. Embodying the feel of a small town, these majestic dwellings were the homes of powerful businessmen, and most included a Catholic chapel and their own water source.

December 23, 1926. Cover of a notarized request presented by Luis Garcia Pimentel Jr. concerning opposition to a request made by people from San Antonio Cuautzingo to access the waters of the municipality of Ocuituco.
December 23, 1926. Cover of a notarized request presented by Luis Garcia Pimentel Jr. concerning opposition to a request made by people from San Antonio Cuautzingo to access the waters of the municipality of Ocuituco.

Undoubtedly, processing the Luis García Pimentel Collection was a transformative experience for me. Thanks to the power of primary resources, I have acquired knowledge of the history of Mexico that informs and sheds light on the golden period of haciendas. The sugar industry during Spanish colonial times is usually associated with the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico), but now Mexico can be added to that pantheon.

———————————————————–If you’d like to find out more about the Luis García Pimentel Collection or about the University of Florida Smathers Libraries, please consult the finding aid on their website or contact Ana D. Rodríguez at

Border Writer Charles Bowden’s Papers at The Wittliff Collections at Texas State University

Charles Bowden writing in a notepad in a park in Mexico, circa 1990s. Charles Bowden Papers, The Wittliff Collections, Texas State University.
Charles Bowden writing in a notepad in a park in Mexico, circa 1990s. Charles Bowden Papers, The Wittliff Collections, Texas State University.

by: Lauren Goodley

Held at the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University, the papers of literary journalist Charles Bowden document his prolific life. The collection is 50 linear feet and dates from 1947-2007 (bulk dates 1970-2007). The majority of the materials are arranged by work, and include correspondence, notes, research, photographs, drafts, and published materials.

Charles “Chuck” Bowden (1945-2014), literary journalist, was born outside of Chicago, and was raised in Tucson, Arizona, where he lived until 2009. He was the author of over twenty-five books; contributing editor for GQ, Esquire, and Mother Jones; and contributor for many other newspapers and magazines, including regional, national, and international publications. Bowden wrote and published widely and extensively on topics related to social justice and border issues, including the environment, political corruption, drug crime, and violence on the U.S.–Mexico border. He is perhaps best known for “While You Were Sleeping,” Harper’s Magazine, Dec. 1996, which broke the story of violent deaths of women in the border town of Juárez, Mexico in the U.S. English-language press.

Bowden received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1979, was a Pulitzer finalist in 1984, participated in the Lannan Residency Program in 2001, and was awarded the PEN First Amendment award in 2011. It wasn’t until after he abandoned academia for the newsroom in his mid-30s that he discovered reporting, which changed his life and career. Bowden believed in writing with a purpose: for social justice and change, and ecological awareness and responsibility. Known for both his stream-of-consciousness introspection and his thorough research, Bowden seamlessly wove the subjective and objective together.

In 1981, Bowden landed a job as a reporter at the Tucson Citizen, where he reported on sex crimes and violence–jobs others refused to take. He and his friend Dick Vonier later founded and edited a weekly rag, City Magazine, which covered local issues from a progressive point of view. An avid hiker and outdoorsman, Bowden also wrote extensively about the environment and championed causes such as the Sonoran Desert Park Project. Two memoir-type books, and several photography books for which he wrote essays, came out of this connection with the land of the Southwest.

After “While You Were Sleeping,” Bowden collaborated with street photographers who were covering crime scenes for daily Juárez papers for Juárez: Laboratory of Our Future (1998). During this time he made friends and contacts that helped him write on drugs and violence on the U.S.–Mexico border for the next eighteen years, including several books and numerous magazine articles. Bowden interviewed citizens, major drug cartels, DEA agents, and people whose lives crossed those lines daily. At a Wittliff event in 2013, John Phillips Santos recalled that while traveling in Chiapas, he caught sight of Bowden and “quickly got out of there,” knowing Bowden’s tendency to seek out dangerous situations.

For more information, please consult the finding aid on TARO, or on the Wittliff website, or contact Lauren Goodley at or (512) 245-3229.