Our Lady of Assassins tells audiences of the violence in Medellin, Columbia through the story of Fernando, a writer who recently returned to Columbia after many years abroad, and his brief yet intense relationship with a young boy named Alexis. Alexis is a product of the daily violence that came about during Escobar’s reign, and his inclination towards violence introduces Fernando to the current dynamic of the city and eventually makes him apathetic to all of the killing. . All of this violence came about from the fight to control Columbia’s drug trade and upon Escobar’s death the city of Medellin turned on itself in an effort to establish who would reign as the new leader of the world’s drug capital.The film chronicles Fernando’s evolution from someone opposed to violence to a man ready to commit murder because of the influence of his new environment.
It is very hard to imagine a city where people will just walk past a dead body as unaffected as they would when walking past a homeless person. That apathy towards violence and murder is what shocked me the most about this film. Just like an any American city it is the norm for some homeless people to be present, in Medellin it is the norm to pass by a dead body or witness a shooting. The casual attitude the city residents have towards death and violence is shocking. Alexis exemplifies this attitude and pulls a trigger on anyone he deems a problem and feels no remorse for his actions. He is a quintessential product of his environment and a great reflection of the city’s “that’s just the way things are” attitude. And there seems to be no governement effort to try and change the state of things. It is very poignant that in the film that police or law enforcement of any kind is never seen. This indicates the complete lack of state/government involvement to put an end to the violence. Only one time do we see a representative of the military, and it is only because Fernando is buying ammunition for Alexis from a friend in the military.
This culture of violence did not just spring solely out of Escobar’s influence is can be traced back to La Violencia in the 1940s. Hylton cites political disagreement and social revolution of the time as the origins of violence and assassination being used as retaliation against opposing political parties (42). Hailing as “Latin America’s most regressive historical development at mid-century,” La Violencia set a precedent for institutionalized acts of cruelty without boundaries (48). This volatile state made room for the drug trade to enter politics and Vargas argues that the economic pull of the drug lords held high levels of influence over the regions benefiting directly from trafficking profits(109). Vargas explains that there are certain situations within societies that fuel the existence of this. All of the examples that they give are what is occurring in Medellin, such as the lack of government restrictions. This void forces the society to create a form of court and execution system outside of the one that already exists. This has occurred within Medellin, in which case the the street gangs and assassins are the ones who bring about judgement and punishment, usually in the form of death.