#NC43 Jose from Andrea Patiño Contreras on Vimeo.
#Caravana43: Profile on Jose Archila, baker and activist in North Carolina
Photo and video by Andrea Patiño Contreras.
Interviews and text by Victoria Bouloubasis.
Jose Archila unfolds 43 chairs and sets them out in a triangle, like a flock of birds ready for flight. With each step, he drops a book onto an empty chair, each one to represent a school chair for each missing student. Books by Howard Zinn, Sandra Cisneros, Malcom X. A biography of Tupac Shakur.
“El panaderooooo!” Jose is bearded, but blushes. You can tell by the way he quickly bites his lip to diffuse shyness before getting back to what he came to do. El panadero, the baker, spent the night pasting 43 prints of black and white faces onto a banner he crafted from recycled flour bags. He hops onto a bench with a roll of heavy-duty blue tape. The protest begins against the backdrop of missing faces plastered onto the wall of the Mexican consulate.
At 3 a.m. Jose adjusts the fine mesh over his beard, slips on a pair of latex gloves. A Pandora station streams from his phone, soothing tropical house beats against the raucous whir of an industrial-sized mixer. Bread dough prepped nearly two hours earlier swells against the plastic of a 20-gallon bucket. Jose eyeballs the measurements and scrapes out enough for a dozen loaves, shaping them as he talks politics, quoting former Uruguayan Pepe Mujica and revolutionary Emiliano Zapata in the same breath. “The uncertainty that lives in Mexico right now,” he says, “is huge. 43 disappeared and no one knows where they are? Es ficticioso.” Whatever the media claims is all fake.
“I’m going to make it back to Chiapas for my 20th high school reunion.” He missed his recent 10-year, saw it all happen in real-time on his Facebook feed. His parents didn’t think it was the best idea for him to come to America. But Jose wanted to build a house. He has been counting pennies and dollars and hours and days for 10 years. He doesn’t have a house in Mexico yet, and he doesn’t have a family here.
Jose breaks mid-day between bread-baking and burger-slinging. In those few hours he sometimes sleeps, but mostly reads. Four newspapers minimum. Then he’ll run. He reserves full days off to participate in half-marathons. Soon he’ll find time to take English classes. “I’ve been here too long,” he says.
Forty-three rural students disappeared from Ayotzinapa, Mexico, on Sept. 26, 2014 after clashing with police.
A series of Instagram videos and essays shares the voices of the parents of the missing Ayotzinapa students, the #Caravana43 visiting from Mexico, and the #NC43 activists like Jose. Fellow documentarian Andrea Patiño Contreras and I chose this medium to match the contemporary form of online activism fueling the movement.
Follow on Instagram: videos and photos by @andreapatino; interviews and text by @thisfeedsme. Full series: bit.ly/NCCaravana43