New Documentary Explores the Secret Life of Loreta Velazquez — Cuban immigrant, Confederate Soldier turned Union Spy
On May 24th PBS will air a true story about a Latina who fought in the Civil War. This film was made by award winning director Maria Agui Carter, who is the current chair of NALIP, the most important organization for Latinos in the film industry.
Shrouded in mystery and long the subject of debate, the amazing story of Loreta Velazquez is one of the Civil War’s most gripping forgotten narratives. While the U.S. military may have recently lifted the ban on women in combat, Loreta Janeta Velazquez, a Cuban immigrant from New Orleans, was fighting in battle 150 years ago – one of the estimated 1000 women who secretly served as soldiers during the American Civil War. Who was she? Why did she fight? And what made her so dangerous that she has been virtually erased from history? REBEL a riveting new film written and directed by María Agui Carter, premieres nationally on PBS on Friday, May 24, 2013 at 10:00 p.m. ET (check local listings).
It’s the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War and little has been written in the history books about Latino participation in this war. 10,000 Mexicans, entire battalions of Latin recruits from Texas to Florida, and Spanish surnamed soldiers who can be found in muster rolls from South Carolina to Vermont took sides during this war. Even Latina women participated as spies, and one as a soldier. Her name was Loreta Velazquez. A Cuban immigrant raised in New Orleans, she disguised herself as a man to fight for the Confederacy, then spied for the Union. For over a century, she has been erased from history, but her testimony survived in a memoir, The Woman In Battle, one of the only two published memoirs by a Latina woman in 19th century North America. Loreta broke all the social rules of her time and decried the corruption of wartime society. She was attacked by prominent Southern leaders for her criciticsm of the Confederacy and her story has been erased from history, until now. In a labor of love that took her twelve years to complete, Agui Carter has created a must-see detective film about a woman, a myth, and the politics of national memory. Her beautiful film continues where Ken Burns’s Civil War series left off.
With beautifully directed dramatic sequences and major battle scenes worthy of blockbuster feature period films, Maria’s compelling film is a great accomplishment, even more so when we reflect that Latinos represent only 2% of the directors working on TV and film, less than 1% of the writers, and 4-6% of the actors in media today. The National Parks will also be screening Loreta’s story at visitors centers and National Battlefields parks around the country, as they commemorate the involvement of Latinos during the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. Bonus videos and learning tools for teachers are available on rebeldocumentary.com and you can like her facebook page at facebook.com/rebel-documentary to hear about theatrical screenings in your area.