La virgen de los sicaros, directed by Barbet Schroeder in 2000, is the story of Fernando, a gay man, returning home to the tumultuous city of Medellin after 30 years “to die.” Upon returning, he discovers a city he does not know, one lost to violence. During the time of the film, the city was in a period of extreme turmoil after the death of Pablo Escobar, where everyone was struggling to gain power, killing whoever got in the way. Fernando falls in love with a young man, who happens to be an assassin with a hit on him. Through him, Fernando and the audience in shown and intense portrait of how bad situation had become in Colombia due to the drug trade. In a country where “values such as vengeance and the violent settling of scores are an increasing part of everyday life,” Fernando experiences the death of two of his lovers, as well as witnesses numerous drive-by shootings, as people on the street duck and cover then continue on like nothing happened (Vargas 123). He becomes so jaded he even stops after a shooting to reprimand a pregnant woman for standing around and crying about it.
Fernando mentions in the film to his first lover, Alexis, that he would help him open a business, but it would not survive. As Alexis was an assassin, he wanted to help him change his life, give him something respectable to do to earn a living. This was a big problem for most in the country. Jobs were hard to come by, unless working in the drug trade. Most farm land was used for cattle, which didn’t need many laborers, or coffee production, and took up a lot of land. Therefore, the were pushed to the cities to try to survive, but most ended up either in the production of the coca paste or in some way working for the cartel. “The growing power of the mafia was first raised in the 1982 elections, when Pablo Escobar and others made inroads into national politics, mainly through the Liberal Party; cocaine had surpassed coffee and earned an estimated 30 percent of Colombian exports” (Hylton 68). In a struggle to position themselves as a legitimate power, the drug cartels used violence, and numerous paid assassins. They took on the “characteristic of medieval warriors, with vengeance as a necessary value in the code of honor” (Vargas 121).
While in the film, every time the audience turned around someone was being gunned down, in all reality there was an extremely high crime rate involving those who made “the use of force the primary mechanism to resolve conflicts and regulate behavior” (Vargas 123). After the death of Alexis, Fernando falls in love again with a young man who highly resembles his dead partner. Even though he turns out to be Alexis’ killer, all drama aside, he still plays an important role in showing a glimpse into the horrible living situations in Colombia during that time. He is also gunned down, and upon finding out Fernando goes to identify his body. There are numerous bodies lying around for people to come and identify, even so many some have been reduced to a photo in a folder. The film does a nice job showing the hard times in Medellin, even though it may be a bit over exaggerated, the point is definitely made.