Ricardo Vargas in, “State, Esprit Mafioso, and Armed Conflict in America,” cited M. A. Matard-Bonucci who believed that examining the mafia of Columbiawould offer insight into the politics of the region. He believed that the mafia was not a “formal organization, but a form of behavior and a mode of power,” (Vargas 107). The film, La Virgen de los Sicaros, takes the audience on a journey through the relationship of two men from various backgrounds and their encounters with the local mafia. The older gentleman, at first has a very negative outlook on life and has returned home to die. He is shocked at the violence that is so second nature to the younger gentlemen. As time goes on, His desire to live returns, but oddly only once he has embraced the violence which surrounds him. His companion is lost to that violence and with an ironic turn of events he befriends the one who took his life. The explanation of why such violence occurred was basically it was an eye for an eye type of life; one death in return for another. The local mafia mentality dictated their behavior of kill or be killed.
The mafia ofColumbiaexpanded due to the drug trade (Vargas 108-109). The war sides and the willingness to take a life for no reason were more prominent themes in the film than the drug trade. There were glimpses of the reliance upon drugs, such as the vast number of children on the streets huffing glue. As Vargas pointed out there was also a “strong absence of a legitimate state presence.” People were being gunned down in the streets daily and at no point were anyone hauled off to the police station. When one woman did become upset she was reprimanded for her emotion, it was after all, just “another dead body.”
Columbiasuffered greatly from internal struggles which trickled down to its citizens. Such struggles had a devastating impact which resulted in “high unemployment, low wages, decreased social security and the rise of the ‘informal sector,’” (Hylton 62). The evidence of such devastation is played out in the film and the life choices that were dominant throughout the population of the city. Vargas also points out that “there is an increasing use of violence” for “resolving personal disputes or obtaining special benefits from individuals” (123). This statement just about sums up the film because the relationship portrayed in the film was based upon the younger killing anyone who upset the older man. In return he received material goods, such as shelter, clothes and gadgets. Once the killing began it did not stop. One killing resulted in numerous others because of the mindset of the individuals. The despair in which they lived was so palpable that their actions became common place in order to keep from drowning. The only emotion they showed was when they encountered an injured dog which they had to shoot to put out of its misery. There was sorrow when the younger man was killed put it did not last. The brutality of reality was too much to live in, so denial was the only option.
“Political and criminal violence fed into one another, and homicide became the leading cause of death among males,” in urban areas (Hylton 65). Political violence was not an aspect of the film, but there is no denying that it did exist. Even the United States was aware of it as was revealed in the newly released documents under the Freedom of Information Act, which showed that the United States was aware of the guerilla involvement in the drug trade, as well as, the Columbian government’s lack of interest in taking action against paramilitary groups (Documents on Drug Trafficking from the National Security Archive).