A play at UNC Charlotte based on the life of Manolo Becantur aims to highlight the local immigrant community. Becantur immigrated to the United States from Colombia in 2000 and faced deportation in 2006.
Carlos Alexis Cruz, the show’s director, hopes the play will answer questions people have and lead people to seek out available resources.
Becantur’s immigration experience
Manolo Becantur fled his home country due to a terrorist bombing that destroyed his family’s business. He arrived on a student visa but encountered problems with U.S. Immigration and Customs in 2006. The problem stemmed from a single missed appointment brought about because he moved from Tennessee to North Carolina and his attorney did not update his address information with ICE. Becantur obtained citizenship in 2008 and opened the business that would become Manolo’s Bakery in 2011.
Inspiration for the play
Becantur is now an immigration advocate who has spoken out against the Mecklenburg County Sheriff Office’s relationship with ICE. He once fought to save an employee arrested by ICE at his bakery. In 2019, he shared his story with a playwright and theater professor at UNC Charlotte, who offered to write a play based on stories from his bakery and his life. The play focuses on Becantur’s work with the local immigrant community and immigrant life in the United States. Becantur appears as himself.
The showrunner hopes that the play will help people gain a different perspective of the LatinX experience and see immigrants as an important and growing part of the North Carolina community.