Inserted within the US tradition of civil war re-enactments, Pulpo (Octopus) re-enacts the Guatemalan civil war. Except, civil war re-enactments traditionally take place in the actual fields where historical battles happened and are performed by people who did not actually fight in the war. Instead, for this occasion the site responds to a symbolic nature: the battlefield is relocated to US soil at a Home Depot parking lot in Los Angeles. And it is performed by the actual combatants who, during the 1990s fought in the war that is being re-enacted: a dozen members of the Los Angeles Mayan community, all recent undocumented immigrants who gather to look for work as day laborers at the same parking lot where the shoot takes place.
The title makes reference to the nickname used in Guatemala for The United Fruit Company, UFCO (nowdays Chiquita Banana), a US Company based in Guatemala and directly linked to the CIA led coup and to the following civil war. At the time, UFCO was by far Guatemala’s largest land owner with tax exempt export privileges since 1901 and control of 10% of Guatemala’s economy through a monopoly of its ports and exclusive rights on the nations railroad and telegraph systems.