Latinx Film and Media

La operación- Ana María García

First released in 1982, Ana María García’s La Operación is a landmark documentary on population control policies in Puerto Rico. Using both interviews and historical footage that contextualize the heavy-handed promotion of female sterilization as an answer to “overpopulation” on the island, this film offered one of the first comprehensive analyses of population policies [necro-politics] as embedded in the context of U.S. imperialism, racism, and corporate-government cooperation to rationalize a national workforce.

Historical Background

  1. How does “La Operación” shed light on the intersectionality of socioeconomic and racial factors in the context of the widespread sterilization operation in Puerto Rico during the 1950s and 60s?
  2. In what ways does the documentary challenge the notion of agency and autonomy over women’s bodies, particularly in the context of the false promises made to Puerto Rican women regarding the consequences and reversibility of sterilization?
  3. How does Ana María García use a mix of interviews, scenes of sterilization procedures, and historical context to create a comprehensive and impactful narrative about the forced sterilization of Puerto Rican women, and what role do these different elements play in shaping the viewer’s understanding?
  4. Discuss the ethical implications of marketing sterilization as a solution to poverty and the impact it had on the reproductive rights of Puerto Rican women. How does the film highlight the ethical considerations surrounding exploiting vulnerable populations?
  5. What connections do you see between the necro-politics depicted in Decade of Fire and in La operación. How does it challenge the narrative of the U.S. as Puerto Rico’s benefactor?