EL POZO PRODUCTIONS, in collaboration with Raquel Ortiz, acclaimed producer of Mi Puerto Rico, is proud to announce the release of The Borinqueneers, the first major documentary to chronicle the never-before-told story of the Puerto Rican 65th Infantry Regiment, the only all-Hispanic unit in the history of the U.S. Army. A one-hour version of this award-winning film premiered nationally on PBS in 2007 and on WTJX (the U.S. Virgin Islands’ PBS station) in 2011. A Spanish expanded version was broadcast on WIPR (Puerto Rico’s PBS station). The Armed Forces Network (AFN) broadcast the film for five years to more than 850,000 U.S. troops overseas. The Pentagon Channel also aired the film. Many screenings have been organized in various major cities throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
Narrated by Hector Elizondo, the documentary explores the fascinating stories of courage, triumph and struggle of the men of the 65th through rare archival materials and compelling interviews with veterans, commanding officers, and historians.
The 65th Infantry Regiment was created in 1899 by the U.S. Congress as a segregated unit composed primarily of Puerto Ricans with mostly continental officers. It went on to serve meritoriously in three wars: World War I, World War II and the Korean War. The unit was nicknamed after “Borinquen”, the word given to Puerto Rico by its original inhabitants, the Taino Indians, meaning “land of the brave lord”.
When they were finally called to the front lines in the Korean War, the men of the 65th performed impressively, earning praise from General MacArthur. They performed a critical role containing the Chinese advance and supporting the U.S. Marines in the aftermath of the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir. Sent to every corner of the peninsula, they showed outstanding resilience and a legendary fierceness as combatants, even as they faced discrimination within the Army. But in the fall of 1952 the regiment was at the center of a series of dramatic events that would threaten its very existence.
Puerto Ricans occupy a special place in the history of the U.S. Army. Because of the island’s commonwealth status, they don’t have the right to vote in U.S. elections, and yet they serve in the military and can be drafted. For many of the veterans of the 65th, this paradox became an incentive to be even more patriotic, to prove themselves in battle 200%.
Although thousands of Puerto Ricans have served courageously in the Armed Forces since World War I, their contribution and sacrifices have gone largely unnoticed. Until now. The Borinqueneers explores the rich history of this unique regiment and uncovers the circumstances that led to its darkest hour. This film is a result of extensive historical research and interviews with 250 veterans and commanding officers of the 65th Infantry from all over the United States and Puerto Rico. We have been honored by their support and willingness to share their stories with us.
FILM FESTIVALS & SCREENINGS
“A passionate rejoinder to Ken Burns, whose World War II documentary drew sharp criticism from Latino and American Indian groups for initially ignoring their contributions during that war…. The Borinqueneers gives a once-storied Puerto Rican regiment its due.” – The New York Times
“An excellent choice for libraries…. The strength of the film is the commentary provided by former members; they are exceptionally candid about their military experiences, reasons for serving, and relationships formed under fire. Historians’ and former military officers’ commentary provide an outside view of the regiment, praising their heroism and bravery. The film also examines how mismanagement of the unit by assigning non-Spanish-speaking officers led to mass insubordination and the arrest of 100 soldiers. A number of relevant topics are covered: racism in the military, America’s relationship with Puerto Rico, and the Korean conflict. But what makes the film most compelling is its examination of friendship and camaraderie under fire.” – School Library Journal
“Highly recommended for libraries serving Puerto Ricans or with collections of Puerto Rican studies… In a very effective interview technique, veterans of the 65th Infantry comment on its performance and express their pride in having served as American citizens despite the limits imposed upon them as a “colored” battalion. Issues pertaining to Puerto Rican culture are also presented, such as their strong adherence to religious customs, praying the rosary before fighting, and their playing music, even in the war camps.” – Criticas
“The Borinqueneers, is both informative and heartbreaking. The film is a necessary step in revealing the complex history of these Puerto Rican soldiers — brave, proud men — and their contributions should be celebrated, especially given how they’re glaringly absent from history books… the film is dense and well-researched, and it does its best to remain objective, instead largely allowing viewers to interpret these historical events according to their own belief systems.” – Si TV
“Highly recommended… The film, sensitive to the plight of the 65th and its veterans, while remaining cautiously objective, should be considered required content for any collection or institution supporting a Puerto Rican population or Latin American studies.” – Educational Media Reviews Online