The film, La virgen de los sicarios, chronicles street violence from the period of La Violencia in Colombia. The story, which is based on a true story, follows Fernando. Fernando has just returned to his hometown of Medellin, Colombia, and he falls in love with a boy named Alexis who is at least thirty years younger than him. Alexis murders countless people on the street for odd reasons—some for fun, some to remove annoyances and others to keep himself from being murdered. Fernando is the perpetrator and acceptor of much of the violence. For instance, he is annoyed by his neighbor who plays his drums too loudly, and so Alexis murders him. At first, Fernando is bothered by the violence, but he does nothing to stop it. In addition, Fernando represents power and wealth. Fernando found Alexis as a poor boy selling himself for sex, and Fernando rescues him from that life by giving him whatever he wants in return for sex. Fernando is a sexual predator, but he represents how the drug and gang industries were predators upon society during La Violencia. The industries offered the poor an easy access to become wealthy. So, the drug industry and gang groups exerted its control over society by linking itself to politics, money and religion. It did so under the radar, like a predator.
First of all, the drug industry controlled society by linking itself to politics. For example, Vargas said those involved in managing the drug trafficking industry were involved in politics (117). Hylton said the outbreak of violence started when presidential hopeful Jorge Eliécer Gaitán Ayala was assassinated in 1948 (36), probably by Conservatives. He was a Liberal, and political tensions were huge at that time, with intense political division between the parties of Liberals and Conservatives. For the most part, the United States was in support of Conservatives. Conservatives depended on the influence of the Church, and Liberals opposed the influence of the Church (36). This is evident in the film as Alexis and others in gangs went to Church. In one scene, kids even sold cocaine inside a cathedral. Those that controlled the drug trafficking industry were heavily linked to politics, no matter what political party they were from. According to Document 33 of the National Security Archive: War in Columbia, there was not a strong link between drug traffickers and guerrilla groups. Attempts to link them were by Colombian security forces who wanted aid from the U.S. to attack guerrillas. So, the U.S. engaged in violence under its political agenda to get rid of the Communist guerrillas—not drugs. It was all about politics.
Furthermore, the drug trafficking industry offered an alternative government by giving the poor, like Alexis, the opportunity to live better lives. It did so through the “Espirit Mafioso”/ the Mafia. Vargas outlined four factors that contributed to the growth of the Mafia. Among the factors were that the nation-state did not establish a firm presence in certain regions (Vargas 107). So, the Mafia used armed conflict and social control to carry out its power (Vargas 109). Lower-class sectors, who were previously denied access to wealth, generated mass wealth from the drug trade. They gained employment and income without the need for government programs designed to help the poor (Vargas 123). The poor gained entire new lifestyles without having to do much work for it. The fact that policing forces were weak helped the drug trafficking industry to persist and control society like it did. In the film, right after Alexis had murdered someone, police were never to be seen. Murders happened without being punished for the crime.
Since Columbia had a weak central state, the drug trafficking industry easily sneaked its way into society and controlled it. The poor eagerly entered the industry in order to live better lives. It’s like how Alexis let himself be controlled by Fernando in order to be well-fed and have nice clothes. By attaching itself to money, politics and religion, the drug trafficking industry controlled Colombian society. The film provides glimpses into what life was really like in La Violencia, and Fernando provides a nice symbol of power and wealth. but the film is “based on a true story.” So, everything in the film should not be taken as reality.