la virgen de los sicaros

The film la virgen de los sicaros follows the life of a wealthy old man named Fernando who travels back to his hometown Medellin in Columbia. Fernando encounters a young assassin named Alexis who explains the violent way of life in Colombia. While witnessing murder and poverty on an everyday basis, Fernando begins to understand how these factors influence the life of everyone living in Medellin. After stupidly taking Alexis’ gun one night to attempt suicide, Fernando successfully loses their only source of protection. Alexis was no longer able to defend himself from countless attacks on his life and is eventually shot down in the street. As time passed, Fernando fell in love again with Wilmer, a boy with shocking similarities to Alexis. To his surprise, Fernando discovered Wilmer murdered Alexis because of an ongoing cycle of violence. Instead of murdering Wilmer like he planned to, Fernando realized there was no use; violence in Columbia was no single individual’s fault, it was a long lasting effect of governmental corruption through a weak state engulfed in poverty.

Problems in Colombian government can be traced back all the way back to the Spanish colonization and eventually to early 20th century Colombian government. In Forrest Hylton’s Evil Hour in Colombia, early and mid-20th century government in Columbia is described in detail. Problems generally arose because of an isolated agrarian society living within a weak rule by the Colombian state. According to Hylton, the mid-20th century consisted of a political struggle between liberals and conservatives. Progress made for the working class by the liberals was ultimately eradicated by conservatives (Hylton, 34). This led to a ongoing struggle for power and an eventual bloody civil war. The results of this political struggle can be seen within la virgen de los sicaros through the eyes of Fernando as well as the mafia members. Fernando had left Colombia sometime ago only to return to a violent and chaotic nation. On the other hand, Alexis and Wilmer were products of the struggle and participants in the necessary violence that kept the lower and middle classes alive–’illegal’ activity.

Ricardo Vargas’s State, Esprit Mafioso, and Armed Conflict in Colombia studies the Colombian government by dissecting the role of the Mafioso in politics. He argues that the Mafioso is not a formal organization, but a form of behavior and a mode of power (Vargas, 107). The film often uses violence to display people such as Alexis protecting his own self-interests instead of allowing the nearly nonexistent law to intervene. Vargas also uses this explanation as a reason the Mafia came to exist in Colombia. Since there was not a stable form of government, the Mafioso was capable of gaining political control through profits from drug trade (109). Jose Cuesta was a great example of this. Originally in the coffee business, Cuesta turned to coca production and eventually the political realm by buying votes (113). Vargas goes on to argue these political figures go on to permeate Columbian society as a whole by implementing law in favor of drug trafficking (123). Images such as this can be seen all throughout la virgen de los sicaros. A nation supported by the illegal export of coca plants and the Mafioso’s rule allow for violence as long as it benefits the Mafioso. People such as Alexis are allowed to defend for themselves leaving no room for outside law enforcement. This would lead one to believe the only consequence that can stem from this is death–a consequence many people such as Fernando would embrace with open arms.