Forward by Richard Galustian
Carla Ortiz is one of the most unique people of our times, a real hero; a woman who is braver than the most seasoned war reporter. She has spent considerable time in the Syrian war zones where the fighting between the Syrian Army and Al Qaeda and its affiliates was at its most bloody and intense, especially in and around Aleppo.; a city where for centuries Christians, though dominant in the area nevertheless, lived as one community with Muslims.
Quoting from a Reuters article written in July 2017 mostly describing the world renowned famous Baron Hotel, located in West Aleppo, where some of the most famous people of the 20th Century including T.E.Lawrence and Agatha Christie, were frequent visitors.
Again quoting from the Reuters article
“In the upstairs room she (Christie) always stayed during her frequent stays to Aleppo stands the glass-topped wooden desk where she wrote part of Murder on the Orient Express.”
The excellent Reuters piece, written by Angus McDowall, gives background and texture of Syrian history describing a country that once was, while explaining the symbolic significance of that County’s most famous hotel.
“Founded by an Armenian family in 1911, The Baron played host to adventurers, writers, Kings, aviators, Bedouin chiefs and presidents, actors, etc until war forced it to close five years ago.
In its heyday,
“The Baron was part of a Syria that valued religious and ethnic diversity, openness to the outside world, culture and respect for the country’s great antiquities.” said Mrs. Mazloumian.
Roubina Tashjian Mazloumian, the 68 year old widow of Armen Mazloumian, the grandson of the hotel’s founder, who died in 2016 said further:
“Syria was the most comfortable, the most secular country in the Arab world,” adding “It was even embarrassing if people asked if you were a Christian or a Muslim.” such was the harmonious relationship that existed between Christian and Muslims communities, not just in Syria but throughput the Middle East in a world before Al Qaeda and ISIS.
“During the fighting, the hotel took in refugee families” till it finally closed for good.
The Baron symbolised what was great about this secular and beautiful Country. The building inevitably has sustained some war related damage but is still standing.
The below is an interview given by Carla Ortiz to THE SYRIA TIMES, but I particularly urge you to watch her films and videos on Syria most can be found on her Facebook page and/or on YouTube.
She is in the process of completing the editing of a new film which is much awaited by all those interested in Syria’s fate. It is expected for general release this Spring/Summer, 2019.
Richard C. Galustian, March 6, 2019
The below extract from one of her first films from Syrian front lines is a perfect introduction to readers (plus an article by her given to Global Research) of her outstanding work.
Carla Ortiz interviewed By Syria Times:
Syria is truly a country of love and peace
Over the past three years, she has fully dedicated her life to help end the war and lift sanctions on the Syrian people, and her big final plan is to release this year her film “Voice Of Syria” that has become the most beautiful journey of her life.
Carla Ortiz, the Bolivian actress and activist, who has made more than 10 trips to what she described as her second country [Syria] and has been on the ground in 80% of the country in ‘rebel’ and government areas, feels responsibility to pass the message that Syria is truly a country of love and peace.
“I have been coming to Syria my second country since the beginning of 2016. I have made several trips (more than 10). I have been on the ground in 80% of the country in ”rebel” and government areas.
This is why I know what Syrians want. I have been documenting for 3 years the “Voice of Syria” a documentary film that has become the most beautiful journey of my life. I have fallen in Love with Syria, with Syrians and their resilience. I never seen anything like that,” she told the Syria Times newspaper, hoping that her documentary film can be an instrument of peace and part of the reconstruction of Syria.
Ortiz has participated last October in a three-day activity held at Liberty University on peace talks and end of intervention in Syria.
“We had a beautiful intense 3 day back to back classes for students of foreign policy, law making and social studies with Senator Richard Black for US congress and Reuben Egolf from US Global Leadership Council. We gave them an overall on Syria we talked about the Assyrians and the original Christians in the Middle East. It was inspiring to see the American young Christians connect to the roots of Aramaic and the beginning of world civilization in Christianity and Islam,” she said.
The speakers in the activity explained the conflict in Syria and the war of 8 years along with the interest of all nations involved in the conflict. “The outcome was just incredible. They were really touched and you could honestly see the interest of the institution, professors and students to pursue conversations of peace and end of intervention in Syria. Some decided to start some new movements to support specific themes in Syria.”
Another activity was held in Washington DC at the National Press Club with the participation of 30 journalists and it was something amazing, according to the actress, who told us what happened there.
“We were not allowed to present any audiovisual material. So it was an actual conversation. Many of them have worked in the Pentagon or Capitol Hill. Many of them understood the war very clearly. Others did not agree with all that was exposed, but it was an exchange of ideas and actions that can truly help inform better about Syria,” Ortiz clarified.
She underscored the need to talk to the people that are misinformed or the ones that have only one side of the story.
“If we don’t open constructive dialogues, we will never find real solutions….Syrians are doing a great job themselves but the international community must help lift the sanctions… All the journalists that night understood the urgency of this matter. So, I considered it a total success!”
Asked about the impression she got during her recent visit to Syria, Ortiz replied: “I am always amazed to see how fast Syrians rebuild their lives…I’ve been in Aleppo several times…. I went this November last and I had tears in my eyes of the emotion to see the Aleppians [Aleppo citizens] so stablished. Many businessmen are back investing in their country, people rebuilding the roads, opening stores, schools, restaurants and hotels are functioning again…The same goes to Damascus, Homs and other cities. But I have to say that I was mostly impressed with Aleppo because I was there in November 2016 during the battle and makes my heart warm to see so alive again.”
Add to that, she was impressed with the amount of Women soldiers volunteering.
“In several occasions when I was going to the frontlines, Syrian soldiers were the ones protecting me or any other journalist that was traveling along. What can I say about them? Many of them are the youth and people of Syria and they are sacrificing their lives to save their families from the result of this unjust war that left terror no one in the world would like to have at home,” Ortiz said.
She has taken paintings with her from Syria and she intends to make an exhibition soon.
“US Customs had detained my shipment for over a year. So, for things like this I need to have patience. We are also working with other projects to bring musicians and artists to Damascus and Palmyra. We, for instance, we had a gorgeous talk in Lericci Italy with Katharine Cooper, a South African Photographer and Syrian conductor Ms. Baghboudarian, the maestro of the National Orchestra in Damascus, about diplomacy and art. It was so special to talk to other artists. There were journalist from mainstream media and they had to listen to us.”
Here is the link:
Ortiz concluded by saying: “Just that I am proud of Syrians. I am seeing that reconciliation is happening. Very soon it will be 2 million people that have retuned home. It is beautiful to see my friends from all sides coming along to their beautiful Syria. It is only YOU Syrians that can rebuild your amazing country. So I say thank you to every Syrian I have ever cross paths with! you have given me the most incredible type of love I have ever received form the people! Thank you for feeding me and for protecting me as family! I love you.”