La Virgen de los Sicaros

La Virgen de los Sicaros” is a film about the immense amount of violence that surrounds the Colombian drug wars. The film centers around a relationship between Fernando, an older gay gentleman, and Alexis, a member of a gang who is constantly being sought after by other gang members. Alexis is eventually killed by one of the gang members, leaving Fernando alone again until he meets Wilmar. Wilmar turns out to be the gang member who killed Alexis, because Alexis had killed his brother. Fernando contemplates killing Wilmar, but instead they decide to leave the country together. As Fernando waits for Wilmar to return from returning a refrigerator to his mother’s house, Fernando receives a phone call informing him that Wilmar has now died. The amount of violence is not the most surreal part of the film, instead it is the nonchalant attitude of the citizens towards the violence.

In the article “State, Esprit, Mafioso, and Armed Conflict in Colombia,” Ricardo Vargas helps explain why this amount of violence became common in Colombia. Vargas explains, “drug trafficking is situating itself so as to capitalize on an eventual reordering of power by the state. Private power is thus being used to create a new public order.” He also explains that the geography of Colombia has helped facilitate guerrilla warfare that is promoted by local leaders. The isolation of each Colombian state and the wide amount of poverty has also encouraged the warfare according to Vargas. Local, private elites funded their own private armies, attempting to protect their land and their illegal activities, causing much violence throughout the country. In the “Evil Hour in Colombia,” Forrest Hylton helps explain the rifts between the various military groups and mpolitical factions. Hylton writes that Colombia was the one Latin American country in the mid twentieth century that did not succumb to agrarian reform and efforts of organized labor. The Catholic Church helped to keep the Conservative party in control during the 1930’s and 1940’s, helping to keep these movements out of Colombia. During a time frame referred to as La Violencia, occurring in the 1940’s and 1950’s, 300,000 men lost their life due to the struggles between the various groups seeking control. This large number of deaths helped to lead to what was known as The National Front, a combining of the Liberal and Conservative parties that was backed by the Catholic Church. However, there was little central power in Colombia and politics was still dominated locally. It is during this time that Hylton explains the guerrilla warfare witnessed in the film began to spring up, as men roamed the country attempting to avenge the death of loved ones. Mafia leaders like Pablo Escobar and others also began to enter politics in the 1980’s, helping to continue the violence surrounding the drug wars in Colombia.

After reading these articles it is clear why the people in the film seemed to not be phased by the amount of violence. When 300,000 men lose their life in less than a decade, it is obvious that most Colombian’s had to cope with amount of violence they witnessed. Vargas writes that defeating drug trafficking and the violence surrounding it is not an easy task, but notes that attempts by Colombia to deal with it mostly failed because the military approach did not consider the local interests that surrounded the drug war. It appears that the U.S. and Colombian forces attempting to defeat the drug trafficking problem should have been more focused on creating a strong central power that could address the problem. This absence of a strong central government helped fuel the violence for the better part of the 20th century.