Review by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com, MsInTheBiz.com and TheCurvyFilmCritic.com
"There's trouble right here in River City"...has never been truer than in the case of Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Anna Vasquez and Kristie Mayhugh
Directed by Deborah S. Esquenazi, "Southwest of Salem" explores the case of what would become known as the San Antonio Four. In 1994, four women were accused, tried and convicted of assaulting two young girls (nieces of Ramirez). Twenty years later these Latina women maintain their innocence, citing that the accusations against them were fabricated and perpetrated from the homophobic prejudice surrounding lesbians and that lifestyle leading to covens, cults and child abuse.
It is heartbreaking to watch these women railroaded, much like the subject of the Netflix series "The Making of a Murderer". It tore several families apart and ruining some relationships beyond repair.
When I spoke to the women at the Tribeca Film Festival, I offered congrats on their release, Those dolls were real quick to remind me that, their ordeal is not over yet. In fact they could still go back to prison.. Let's hope not, so that these beautiful women and get on with the bit of life they have left to enjoy.
As much as it pains me to say this, the most interesting aspect of this story is the fact that when celebrities are "allegedly" accused of such heinous and disturbing acts, their wealth and fame often times assist them in alluding any jail time and/or the charges more often than not are overturned.
These four women were railroaded in court not only for their ethnicity, but in part their sexual orientation. The prejudice and ignorance that is prevalent in the current American Diaspora gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "innocent until proven guilty".
Deborah S. Esquenazi does an excellent job of presenting a very strong argument as to why the women are innocent. After meeting and chatting with them all, I can tell you that there is nothing more heartbreaking than watching women walking on the tightrope of life without a net. Watching them live each day in fear of having freedom snatched, having the courts take their time setting a new trial date and not being able to move forward and enjoy life for yourself.
If you hate prejudice against women, LGBT community and injustice in general, here are some steps you can take now to assist the San Antonio Four...
- Call 210-335-2311. Ask for District Attorney Nico LaHood's Office. Here's what to say: "I am angered by Judge Pat Priest's ruling to not recommend exoneration for Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Anna Vasquez and Kristie Mayhugh. I want Nico LaHood and the District Attorney's office of Bexar County to take a stand on the San Antonio Four case to declare actual innocence and have the women exonerated for their wrongful convictions."
- Tweet: @BexarCounty @Nico4DA Take a stand about the @SanAntonioFour injustice! Recommend exoneration #FreetheSA4 @IPofTexas #southwest of Salem
- Post on Facebook: I am angered by Judge Pat Priest's ruling to not recommend exoneration for Elizabeth Ramirez, CAssandr Rivera, Anna Vasquez and Kristie Mayhugh. I want Nico LaHood and the ;district Attorney's office of @BexarCounty to take a stand on the San Antonio Four case to declare actual innocence have the women exonerated for their wrongful convictions. #FreetheSA4 #SouthwestOfSalem
Here are some excerpts of our interview together...