Motivated by his deep affection for the U.S. military, Colombian-American actor Hector Luis Bustamante created “Caribe Road” to not only show his gratitude, but to allow a Latino actor to take center stage in an action series.
The web show follows the work of U.S. Special Forces commander Mark Caribe (Bustamante), a Colombian turned U.S. Citizen, who leads an elite combat unit to South America in search of a terrorist named Carlos Saldana. It first appeared online in 2011 and has since sporadically revealed new episodes for its fans. The series was nominated for an Imagen Award in 2012 for “Best Web Series: Drama” and
As the 41-year-old actor wraps up Season One, he spoke to HuffPost about “Caribe Road” and his hopes for the show’s future.
What inspired you to create Caribe Road?
Well it was two things. I have a lot of appreciation for the military and so I wanted to create a show to kind of say “Thank you.” I was in New York when 9/11 happened. So that day obviously affected a lot of people [and] it affected me a lot. [The series is a way] to kind of say thank you to the men and women that go out there and for whatever reasons selfishly go and give their lives for us so that we can continue to be free...
Why did 9/11 resonate with you specifically?
Because I wish I could’ve [pause] I’m a do-er, I need to do things and I would’ve loved to have just gone out there with all the special forces and go and find the people that were responsible for this, but I didn’t get a chance to do that or help more people. To this day that’s the way I feel. We lost a little less than 3,000 people and...so on TV or doing a series you know I get to tell my story or send out my message, it’s kind of like an homage to never forget that these things happened.
So what’s the second reason you decided to do the series?
The other one was, you know being the creator I wanted to do a show that shows a Latino in a leader role. That’s hard to see, it’s still not happening. For such an advanced country that we have, we still don’t have a Latino hero in film or TV. There have been attempts, but they’re short lived and so at least on the web, you know, we can continue on without having to be subjected to sales or board of directors saying "no, the show is not doing well, it doesn’t have enough fans so we’re going to cancel the show."
Why did you choose to use Colombia as a backdrop for the show?
You know everyone uses Afghanistan and Iraq and I didn’t want to do that. When you do things like that you have to be very careful because there’s two sides of the coin and you don’t want to insult anybody or put anybody down. And Colombia is something that I know very well.
Do you worry about perpetuating negative images and stereotypes of Colombia?
No, because I’m not making Saldana a drug dealer. It’s going to turn out later on that Saldana is not even Colombian. He’s just somebody that is hiding under the old pretext “oh you know, I’m Colombian we don’t want the gringos here” and I’m [also] going to show some very strong Colombian people that are basically “we want the peace and we don’t want these people here.”
You’ve said having the series on the web gives you a certain creative freedom, but do you ever plan to expand?
The plan is to make it into a TV series, but my plan is to bring it to Colombia and produce hopefully season 2 or season 3 in Colombia so that all the roles that are Colombian, all the roles that are Spanish speaking, they’re all cast in Colombia. We’d produce it in Colombia because that’s eventually where the series is leading to, they’re [the characters] going to go to Colombia to look for this guy.
So when would the crew head to Colombia?
The plan is to do it by 2014. We’ve been shooting episodes. They’re not up yet because we don’t want to show them. Because unfortunately if you put up episodes on the web and you want to do a half hour special on one of the networks, they don’t want to air anything that’s already been seen. So what we’re doing is we’re shooting the next part of the episodes, which would finish season one, but we’re putting together a half hour special and try to see if maybe Crackle or Hulu would want to host it or distribute it.
You made an appearance on last week’s episode of FX’s “The Bridge.” You played an immigrant trying to cross the border. What do you think of the show?
“The show is going to be like nothing you’ve ever seen. They are going to get to business... They were bringing in advisors that were Coyotes at some point, that crossed the border at some point. I mean they really want the series to show what really goes on without taking sides. So it’s kind of like going on a ride and seeing everything, and then you come up with your own conclusions.”
Check out the first episode below: