La Virgen de los Sicarios (2000)

The film La Virgen de los Sicarios, takes place in the crime stricken town of Medellin, Colombia. The story evaluates the struggles between the main character Fernando, a homosexual elderly man, who seeks to find the killer of his teenage lover, Alexis. As Fernando begins his search, he comes across another gay youth who resembles Alexis. The two hit it off but Fernando soon finds out it was Wilma, the new lover, who had killed Alexis. Fernando knows he must kill Wilma but ultimately finds out Wilma only killed Alexis in retaliation because Alexis had killed Wilma’s older brother. La Virgen de los Sicarios well in emphasizing the senseless violence that can happen in Colombia on a daily basis. Though it might be overly accentuated, the film makes it a good habit to help the audience be able to recognize how life could be living in an under developed country with little security and safety.

Colombia is well known for its crime, drug production and trafficking as well as an ongoing civil war between the Colombian military and its rebel guerrillas. Counter drug operations and efforts to combat the internal struggles of the drug trade have become a well known initiative of the United States, as well as those whom want to cooperate in the elimination of narcotics trafficking. In the National Security Archive regarding “War in Colombia: Guerrillas, Drugs, and Human Rights in U.S.-Colombia Policy, 1988-2002” findings have been analyzed investigating the involvement between the U.S. and Colombia and its policies to boot corruption. Stating from the National Security Archive, “The U.S.-Colombia end-use agreement – intended to guarantee that counter drug aid be used only in drug producing areas and only for counternarcotics operations – came to be interpreted so broadly as to render its provisions virtually meaningless.” This statement is very interesting. It goes on to say that the U.S. deemed the territory useless and instead decided to declare the entire country, Colombia that is, open for investigation. This is not surprising. For the U.S. it seems to be hard to declare most places that are deemed as threats or menaces to society, without completely wanting to redo the entire infrastructure of a certain sector. Other CIA intelligence reports found in the National Security Archive state that the Colombian government lacked the will to go after the guerrilla groups. But once again, this goes back to cooperation from both sides. There must be an assurance that the correct and legal activities to stop the drug trade and corruption are done, but this is much easier said than done when the illegal benefits can out weigh the consequences. (e.g. making much more money on producing and distributing cocaine, than working construction).

The article, “State, Esprit Mafioso, and Armed Conflict in Colombia” by Ricardo Vargas touches on the subject of state control beyond the legal system. This goes along with the problems that are encountered in the  film and Colombia as well as other countries. Vargas uses the example of Sicily and the creation of the mafia to show how underdeveloped areas, unable to rely on the legal system, are able to establish working systems where local political and social systems are put in place. This is a very good explanation of how Colombia can be explained. In the 1960’s, Colombia was still a very underdeveloped country. The abundance of the coca plant was seen as major resource crop and the locals new what effect, if produced to make cocaine, would create for immense money making potentials. Also, Columbia has a vast mountainous landscape making it harder for the government to patrol for illegal drug trafficking. The combination of a large peasant and lower class, very little legal enforcement, the abundance of the coca plant, and an unstable government became all very good ingredients for making Colombia known as one of the biggest drug exporters in the world. The article goes on to explain many “mafia” tendencies practiced in the societal background of Colombia. The article states, “…most Colombians condemn drug trafficking…when a trafficker attempts to “legalize” his situation by buying land and acquire legitimacy,… he is accepted or at least not openly questioned.”. This statement, helps to explain how much influence the rebel groups and guerrillas have had on local citizens as well as the recognition of mass profit. 

The film La Virgen de los Sicarios does a good job in depicting the violence and harsh times one can endure in Colombia. There have been many stories told of the drug lords, violence, kidnappings, and corruption that has been known to occur within the country. Although the country is still developing, many agree that the drug trafficking and distribution heyday has passed and that Colombia is becoming a safer and more well respected country.