La virgen de los sicarios

Our Lady of the Assassins is a movie centered on drug violence in Medellin, Colombia.  Fernando is a famous gay Colombian author who returns to Medellin after 30 years to find his hometown ripped apart by murders and crime.  Alexis is a young gay assassin who seems to kill people with little regard for human life.  Throughout the film, Fernando tries to show Alexis that it is far worse to let people live their horrible lives, than quickly ending their suffering.  Alexis kills anyone that annoys his new lover, and kills other assassins to protect his own life.  However, he is unable to kill a hurt dog to put him out of his misery, instead giving Fernando the gun.  Fernando loses the gun after Alexis knocks it away when Fernando tries to turn it on himself.  This leaves Alexis without a weapon, and shortly thereafter, he is gunned down in the street by assassins.  Fernando tries to move on, and finds another young boy, Wilmar, to keep him occupied.  Wilmar shares many similarities to Alexis, and is also an assassin.  When Fernando finds out that Wilmar is the person who murdered Alexis, he tries to kill him, but stops once he finds out he only did it because Alexis murdered his brother.  Fernando and Wilmar make plans to leave the crime ridden streets of Medellin, however, before they can leave, Wilmar is robbed and murdered.  The final scene of the film shows Fernando cleaning out his apartment.  It is unclear whether Fernando is moving away or about to kill himself.  One thing is certain; the circle of violence in Medellin has not stopped by the film’s end.

The Wild West atmosphere of Medellin portrayed in the film is not far from the truth.  The United States first tried to intervene by sending military aid to drug infested areas to combat their drug cartels.  At first nothing was done to suppress the guerrilla forces in the area.  However, documents in the National Security Archive say that once the guerrilla fighting spilled over to random assassinations in the streets, something needed to be done.  In fact, the regions receiving US aid expanded to the entire country of Colombia, instead of centralized locations because the drug warfare was getting out of control.  One stipulation of the US aid was that no groups committing human rights violations were to receive any help from the US.  Towards the end of the 1990s, US Rep. Dennis Hastert secretly encouraged the Colombian government to ignore that clause, just to ensure the violence stopped.

Ricardo Vargas stated that the violence in Colombia must be examined using a historical basis as a guideline.  He says that most of the violence in Colombia can be traced to isolated areas in the 1800s that were forced to govern and police themselves in order to prosper.  The majority of the economy was funded by illegal activities, and since no national government or police force was suppressing it, it steadily grew more and more until the drug cartels took over.  He says, “each guerrilla force filled vacuums in parts of the country where state institutions were weakest and developed ties to both local society and the economy.  Local landowners and party bosses either made deals with the forces or organized the fight against them.”  He claims that only when these groups became so out of control, that the government tried to step in, but at that point it was too late, and the country was under siege of drug cartels.

The scenes depicted in Our Lady of the Assassins paints a realistic picture of the escalation of drug violence in Medellin, Columbia during the 1980s and 1990s.  Fernando realizes that nothing is going to be done about it, and tries to save his young lovers by fleeing the country.  Sadly, everyone in the film was so numb to murders; none of these even fazed them.  In the end, Fernando is unable to make a difference, and the young men are gunned down by the society they grew up in.