kkratzer 2011-04-18 13-21-59

By 1982, cocaine attained the status of Columbia’s greatest export, finally trumping coffee (Hylton, 68) and influencing a growing mafia most notoriously led by Pablo Escobar. Taking place primarily in Medellin, the film La Virgen de los Sicaros portrays the effects that the cocaine business had on its city and its people. A civil war of rival gangs instigate violence throughout the city, making murder an everyday experience for the characters involved. As Vargas explains, without strong central authority in an area, private violence is a means to display social control and instill fear in everyday people, forming a threat to any people that object to a gang or other group’s goals.

Columbia has a history of being unable to govern its people or retain any strong authority. Vargas explains this through the region’s landscape, which isolates different parts of Columbia, contributing to a nation that seems split up into separate and disjointed territories. Combined with a series of civil wars, drug cartels and crime have excelled in the nation. The fact that Columbia’s greatest export is illegal throughout the world proves just how corrupt its financial system is. This also leads to corrupt political authority as well as a disbelief from the Colombian people in the transparency of their government. In La Virgen de los Sicaros, the crime and bloodshed that have run rampant force many civilians into a state of acceptance at the horrors in their city. Yet, at one point a reactionary pregnant woman expresses her extreme dismay over a killing she just witnessed. She is immediately ridiculed by the protagonists as weak and naive- in a city like Medellin it is apparently futile to have a heart.

The violence that permeates those involved in the Colombian drug cartels has taken a great number of lives and persisted into the present day. Yet the United States fails to take a responsible and informed action in its involvement with Columbia. It threatens to aid attack on strictly guerrilla groups when it seems as though the Colombian government has corruption embedded into its very roots. The violence of urban centers like Medellin must be fought against and reversed if nations like Columbia desire any sort of stability or functionality in their political and social systems.