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The Cantinera exposes a niche of human trafficking in the United States where latin women drink and prostitute themselves for a living in latin bars or cantinas by means of force, fraud or coercion.
Through the story of three women, the film navigates through the virtually unheard of subject from the perspective of a cantinera, an advocate and a vigilante.
The film travels into the cantinas where women drink up to 40 beers a night, five nights a week. An upclose look identifies the strategies of traffickers who stage their operations so the victims look like the perpetrators and the cantina a legitimate business.
The Cantinera tells the story of hope in the midst of modern-day slavery as the women confront enslavement, addiction and second chances.
Documentary producer, Ruth Villatoro‘s film took many turns in the five years it took to put it all together. Setting out to tell the story of a cantina girl who drank for a living in Latin bars, she unexpectedly ran into the vast world of sex trafficking, leading to another avenue of research.
In the months I spent pouring into the research circuits, I was able to find one educational research thesis on the subject. This blew me away. Any other subject search will result in thousands of results; domestic violence, drug addiction, human trafficking, but the subject of cantineras is virtually unknown.
I saw this as my opportunity. A chance to tell the world what is happening. (DitoGear)
Once rescued by advocates like Dottie Laster and Cat French, victims meet with specific terrors and new issues to be dealt with for restoration and the ability to live again within society. In the United States we don’t have adequate resources to fulfill the specific needs of the victims, psychological, physical, and opportunities to become self-sustaining members in the job force.
Dottie Laster, along with providing training and education to agencies across the country, also works directly with the rescued victims leading them to the proper services that are available. Through her association with the Bernardo Kohler Center and through Laster Global Consulting, Dottie has been instrumental in securing t-visas for victims of trafficking and in creating policies and procedures as organizations adapt to the old crime under new laws.
2013 will find The Cantinera Documentary making the rounds of world-wide film festivals. A preview screening held at Rice University in October, 2012, was completely sold out and another screening is planned for the future.
The Cantinera Documentary Online:
CantineraDocumentary from Ruth Villatoro on Vimeo.