Actor Eduardo Verastegui on the Schindler's List of Mexico

John Hanlon

6/4/2012 12:01:00 AM - John Hanlon

In the early 20th Century, the Mexican people banded together and fought a war against their overzealous government which was infringing on their religious rights. And although the Cristero War was an important event in that nation’s history, many Mexicans don’t learn about it in public school because it embarrasses the government, according to actor Eduardo Verástegui.” But Verástegui’s newest film For Greater Glory attempts to tell the story of that important war. I recently talked to the young actor about the true story behind the film, the cause of religious freedom and why he enjoys playing heroes.

Glory focuses on an atheist general, played by Andy Garcia, who is recruited to lead an army of Christians who were fighting for the freedom to practice their religion. In the film, Verástegui plays Anacleto González Flores, a Christian turned off by the ensuing violence. Instead of fighting the government, he wants to use an economic boycott to undercut its power and protest its overreach. Verástegui noted that Flores is “called the Mexican Gandhi because he was a peacemaker.”

And despite his Mexican upbringing, the actor hadn’t heard of this incredible story before someone asked him about it in Los Angeles. “I so felt embarrassed that I didn’t know this period of time in my own country,” he said. But he researched the story and as he did, he became intrigued. “I got very passionate when I saw this dark period of Mexico where more than 200,000 people died in a very horrible way,” he said.

“I learned and I discovered that the reason why public schools [didn’t teach] these historical facts was because it was an embarrassment to the government.” But Verástegui believes that the government should embrace the darkest chapters in its past. “Let’s bring the wound out,” he said about teaching the story in schools, “let’s heal it, let’s go back in history, let’s learn from the mistakes that we commit so we don’t do that again…” When discussing the timeliness of the film, the actor noted that religious freedom is always an important subject to discuss. And he hopes that the film has an effect on its audience. After seeing the film, the actor noted that he hopes viewers “will leave of course entertained but more important with a spark in their heart and not being afraid to be heroes. I hope that they will leave wanting to be a better person,” he said. The actor, who noted that prayer is an extremely important part of his life, added that he actually enjoys playing good guys. “I like to be involved in big projects where the characters are heroes so I can learn from them,” he said. And there is plenty to learn from For Greater Glory. This is a story that isn’t afraid to show the consequences of an overzealous government that curbs its citizens’ religious freedoms and it’s a story that the Mexican government shouldn’t be afraid to tell. “This is like the Schindler’s List of Mexico,” Verástegui said. And like that earlier film, this is a true story that needed to be told onscreen.