The experience of Latinos in the U.S. Army has rarely been portrayed in film. Now comes The Borinqueneers (pronounced Boh-rin-keh-neers), the never-before-told story of the 65th Puerto Rican Regiment, the only all-Hispanic unit in the history of the U.S. Army. Narrated by Hector Elizondo (Chicago Hope, Pretty Woman), this compelling 78-minute documentary relies on interviews with the regiment’s veterans and rare archival footage to trace the unique experience of the 65th, culminating in the Korean War and the dramatic events that would threaten its very existence. The world premiere screening will take place on July 13th at the Newark Museum in Newark, NJ, with other screenings scheduled in various other cities. PBS stations nationwide will begin broadcasting a one-hour version of the program in August (check local listings).
Named after “Borinquen,” the word given to Puerto Rico by its original inhabitants, the Taino Indians, the Borinqueneers formed a tight-knit unit bound by a common language and a strong cultural identity. First-time director and producer Noemí Figueroa Soulet spent eight years researching the story and locating veterans of the regiment, some of whom have since passed away. Through their voices, the documentary explores the unique history of the 65th Regiment and illustrates many of the issues surrounding the U.S. relationship with Puerto Rico and the broader Latino experience. “Puerto Ricans occupy a very special place in the history of the U.S. Army,” says Figueroa Soulet. “As a former colony and now a commonwealth, we don’t have the right to vote in U.S. elections, and yet we serve in the military and we can be drafted.”