Our Lady of the Assassins tells the story of violence in the city of Medellin, Colombia. We follow the love story of an older man named Fernando and a young boy named Alexis. Alexis reintroduces Fernando to city life, showing its harshness and new age of killing. This story takes place during the reign of the Medellin Cartel; under control of Pablo Escobar. Escobar uses his wealth from drug trafficking to hire assassins to carry out his killings and to keep control of the city.
Ricardo Vargas describes why mafia rule continues in cities like Medellin. Through violence, mafia’s can establish their control. People are afraid of being targeted and killed, so they avoid conflict with the local power. The mafia also possesses extended political and economic power (Vargas, 107). Escobar was able to infiltrate and influence the Liberal Party. He also controlled the Cocaine trade, which at the time was one of largest exports in Columbia (30%) (Hylton, 68). The Medellin Cartel could afford thousands of assassins; far too many for the local government to oppress, we don’t see any examples of police involvement in the movie. Controlling the streets allowed the cartel act at their own digression; killing who ever they needed to with out repercussion. Alexis was dumbfounded when Fernando told him he didn’t know who Pablo Escobar was and the Medellin Cartel; however it didn’t take long for Fernando to experience the cartels work.
Fernando states in the beginning of the movie that he is an anti-violence activist. However his ideals are changed as Alexis shows the power of the gun in Medellin. Hits are out against the Alexis and he saves their lives by gunning down two potential assassins. More random violence continues to take place. Fernando witnesses a car theft and murder; along with another random murder in the city. Fernando realizes what it takes to survive in Medellin, eventually giving Alexis a case of bullets. Violence would catch up to Fernando and Alexis. Alexis is murdered and Fernando is left to find another partner.
Through the “Andean Strategy”, the U.S. has given aid to Andean governments to combat drug production and guerilla violence. Under the Bush administration in 2003, the U.S. gave almost $500 million in military and police aid. Eventually the U.S. was on the brink of direct involvement with the guerillas and the Columbian Civil War. In hopes of stopping direct involvement, the U.S.-Colombia came to an end-use agreement, which would continue to give aid to courter narcotics but not anti-guerrilla units (Evans, War in Columbia). In the movie we don’t seen any military or police involvement. Director Barbet Schroeder may have intentionally done this to show how ineffective the government’s role in stopping violence truly was. In a city like Medellin, true power comes in the form of bullets and control from the cartels.