Sicario: Mexican Drug Cartels & the US-led War on Drugs

February 8, 2016
Ed Vulliamy and Dan Jolin

Ed Vulliamy and Dan Jolin

Journalist and writer Ed Vulliamy was joined by Empire film critic Dan Jolin on Friday 5 February at the Frontline Club, to watch and discuss Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario.

The Academy Award-nominated film, the title of which translates to ‘assassin’, tells the story of the inextricably linked worlds of US law enforcement agencies and Mexican drug cartels. 

 

Sicario follows FBI agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt), who leads an Arizona-based kidnap response unit. After she and her team lead a successful raid on a cartel hideout, Macer is recruited to work with an inter-agency special ops team led by CIA agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin).

Alongside Graver’s partner Alejandro Gillick (Benicio del Toro), Macer and the Delta Force team launch operations to capture the main narco-cartel players in the city of Juárez. She quickly learns how blurred the lines are in the USA’s inglorious war with Mexican cross-border drug cartels.

Jolin began by praising Sicario’s cinematography, describing it as a “slow-burning fuse, a mix of horror and sci-fi.” He said: “I’m a sucker for an effective score and beautiful cinematography – and that film has both.

“It posits this extreme reaction to dealing with the war on drugs. It takes you into a morally alien world. And the cinematography makes you feel like you’re in another world. When I came out I was thinking, ‘I don’t know what is wrong or right anymore’,” he said.

Vulliamy, who has worked extensively in South and Central America as a reporter for the Guardian, has visited Juárez frequently. One of the film’s opening sequences depicts decapitated corpses hanging from a bridge in the city – a scene which confronted Vulliamy during a recent trip.

But Vulliamy rejected the film’s depiction of the “darkness” of the city. “I’m actually one of the few people who still goes there for my holidays,” he said. “The more I spend time there the brighter its gets, and the decency of people grows more infectious and wonderful.”

Vulliamy said that that the war on drugs is “the first truly 21st century war.” He added: “It is our society that is irrevocably dependent on cocaine and it is our banks that keep accommodating the cartels by laundering their money. It is a totally post-modern, post-political war that is about nothing.”

Vulliamy praised Sicario for showing that the war on drugs in Mexico “is the future” and that in the murky war, “order is the best thing we can hope for.”

He said: “What you see in the film is the CIA putting people back into Mexico who are the only people who can run the system.

“The instruments of state need people like Chapo Gúzman [the recently recaptured cartel leader] on their side and that’s why they keep letting him out of jail, because he can keep the pax mafiosa.”

However, Vulliamy criticised the film for failing to depict the lives of real Mexicans. “I can’t understand why Hollywood can’t make a film about Mexico that is actually about Mexicans.

“Our sense of Juárez is nil. There’s no sense of poverty, and no real attempt to go there. It’s still Rambo.”

But Jolin defended Sicario’s focus, commenting that “the film is putting Americans at the heart of it and saying, ‘we can be just as bad as them’.”

Au audience member asked why the US government does not push for the legalisation of hard drugs.

Jolin said legalisation was the right path, but that politicians would never dare advocating it because it would lose them votes. Vulliamy suggested that “it would be great for Greenwich Village and on university campuses,” but that poverty-stricken areas of South America where the drugs are produced would not be improved.

“It’s not going to make anything worse. I just don’t think it’s the answer,” he said.



Topics:

2 thoughts on “Sicario: Mexican Drug Cartels & the US-led War on Drugs”

  1. 1stworldview says:

    Netflix true crime series Narcos spurs huge demand for Colombian women.

    Produced by Netflix, the show “Narcos” takes on the infamous Medellin drug cartel which follows the rise and fall of Colombian kingpin Pablo Escobar and the Drug Enforcement Agency agents hunting him. The story is told largely from the points of view of Escobar (Brazilian actor Wagner Moura) and U.S. DEA Agent Steve Murphy (Boyd Holbrook), on opposite sides of what would become an all-out war.

    Many critics of true crime dramas have always complained they are promoting crime and violence by glorification, an unintended consequence of American entertainment industries. These shows can have other interesting Netflix true crime series Narcos spurs huge demand for Colombian women.

    Pconsequences. The Foreign Bride industry has seen a huge spike in demand for Colombian women. This can be viewed as positive or negative, depending on social perspective.

    Foreign Brides, sometimes referred to as “mail order brides”, a term the industry completely rejects, have become a billion dollar a year business. According to industry leaders, Colombia represented only about 3% of the market three years ago. Since the popularity of Narcos, many companies have seen near tenfold increases in men seeking Colombian wives.

    A Foreign Affair (AFA), a company that helps men find women through international tours, says tours to Colombia are now selling out. AFA arranges group tours where 10 to 20 men travel together to Medellin, Cartagena or Barranquilla. During the tour, they attend arranged Social events where the men meet hundreds of beautiful Colombian women looking for marriage. Women can also place their profiles on the AFA web site, in the hopes of finding a husband.

    Kenneth Agee, the marketing director for AFA says, “Because of the show we are doubling our tours to Medellin for next year. Narcos has brought a lot of attention to the intense beauty of Colombian women. Although the show is often very violent, the women of Colombia come across as very family oriented and loyal. These values seem harder and harder to find in this world. I would have to agree, because of the interest in Narcos, we even added an excursion to where Pablo’s self-built prison was located, in the hills overlooking Medellin.

    The crowning of 2015 Miss Universe Paulina Vega put Barranquilla, Colombia on the map. Barranquilla now has recognition for being home to some of the most beautiful and talented women in the world. Not only is Miss Universe from here, Grammy Award winning pop singer Shakira, and actress Sofia Vergara also call Barranquilla home. Vergara stars on the ABC series Modern Family as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett. She’s been nominated for 4 Golden Globe Awards, 4 Prime time Emmy Awards, and 7 Screen Actors Guild Awards, all stemming from this role. In 2014, she was ranked as the 32nd Most Powerful Woman in the world by Forbes.

    David from Mesa AZ says he met more qualified women in one week than he has during the last 10 years. In 2010, Lisa Ling and the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) filmed a one hour show on the AFA tour called “Online Brides – Our America with Lisa Ling.” Even Lisa Ling was surprised by the beauty and sincerity of the women from Barranquilla.

    Janet Davis, head of a women’s rights group says “AFA is just taking advantage of women from these third world countries. This is no different than Pablo trafficking in narcotics, but these companies traffic women.” Proponents refer to a Report (INTERNATIONAL MATCHMAKING ORGANIZATIONS: A REPORT TO CONGRESS) that these marriages have much lower divorce rates and abuse rates compared to traditional domestic marriages. This data makes international dating similar to a woman in the US joining eHarmony to look for a husband.

    23-year-old Viviana, from Cartagena, says “I come to these events because I know the men attending are serious about marriage, they are faithful and are good to family. For Colombian women, it is the most important thing, good husband and good family.

    Kenneth says, “It has not been all rosy. Narcos has brought us some problems. In Cartagena, we have several Penthouses we rent out. One was originally owned by “Don Diego” head of the Norte Del Velle Drug Cartel, the other by Pablo’s people. Over the past year, the properties have been tracked down by individuals thinking they will find large qualities of cash hidden, thus we sometimes find holes all over the walls after a tenant leaves.

    For Narcos fans, those who love the gangster genre, or just those who just like seeing beautiful Latin women, there’s good news; Netflix’s has confirmed Season 3 and 4.

  2. 1stworldview says:

    Netflix true crime series Narcos spurs huge demand for Colombian women.

    Produced by Netflix, the show “Narcos” takes on the infamous Medellin drug cartel which follows the rise and fall of Colombian kingpin Pablo Escobar and the Drug Enforcement Agency agents hunting him. The story is told largely from the points of view of Escobar (Brazilian actor Wagner Moura) and U.S. DEA Agent Steve Murphy (Boyd Holbrook), on opposite sides of what would become an all-out war.

    Many critics of true crime dramas have always complained they are promoting crime and violence by glorification, an unintended consequence of American entertainment industries. These shows can have other interesting Netflix true crime series Narcos spurs huge demand for Colombian women.

    Pconsequences. The Foreign Bride industry has seen a huge spike in demand for Colombian women. This can be viewed as positive or negative, depending on social perspective.

    Foreign Brides, sometimes referred to as “mail order brides”, a term the industry completely rejects, have become a billion dollar a year business. According to industry leaders, Colombia represented only about 3% of the market three years ago. Since the popularity of Narcos, many companies have seen near tenfold increases in men seeking Colombian wives.

    A Foreign Affair (AFA), a company that helps men find women through international tours, says tours to Colombia are now selling out. AFA arranges group tours where 10 to 20 men travel together to Medellin, Cartagena or Barranquilla. During the tour, they attend arranged Social events where the men meet hundreds of beautiful Colombian women looking for marriage. Women can also place their profiles on the AFA web site, in the hopes of finding a husband.

    Kenneth Agee, the marketing director for AFA says, “Because of the show we are doubling our tours to Medellin for next year. Narcos has brought a lot of attention to the intense beauty of Colombian women. Although the show is often very violent, the women of Colombia come across as very family oriented and loyal. These values seem harder and harder to find in this world. I would have to agree, because of the interest in Narcos, we even added an excursion to where Pablo’s self-built prison was located, in the hills overlooking Medellin.

    The crowning of 2015 Miss Universe Paulina Vega put Barranquilla, Colombia on the map. Barranquilla now has recognition for being home to some of the most beautiful and talented women in the world. Not only is Miss Universe from here, Grammy Award winning pop singer Shakira, and actress Sofia Vergara also call Barranquilla home. Vergara stars on the ABC series Modern Family as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett. She’s been nominated for 4 Golden Globe Awards, 4 Prime time Emmy Awards, and 7 Screen Actors Guild Awards, all stemming from this role. In 2014, she was ranked as the 32nd Most Powerful Woman in the world by Forbes.

    David from Mesa AZ says he met more qualified women in one week than he has during the last 10 years. In 2010, Lisa Ling and the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) filmed a one hour show on the AFA tour called “Online Brides – Our America with Lisa Ling.” Even Lisa Ling was surprised by the beauty and sincerity of the women from Barranquilla.

    Janet Davis, head of a women’s rights group says “AFA is just taking advantage of women from these third world countries. This is no different than Pablo trafficking in narcotics, but these companies traffic women.” Proponents refer to a Report (INTERNATIONAL MATCHMAKING ORGANIZATIONS: A REPORT TO CONGRESS) that these marriages have much lower divorce rates and abuse rates compared to traditional domestic marriages. This data makes international dating similar to a woman in the US joining eHarmony to look for a husband.

    23-year-old Viviana, from Cartagena, says “I come to these events because I know the men attending are serious about marriage, they are faithful and are good to family. For Colombian women, it is the most important thing, good husband and good family.

    Kenneth says, “It has not been all rosy. Narcos has brought us some problems. In Cartagena, we have several Penthouses we rent out. One was originally owned by “Don Diego” head of the Norte Del Velle Drug Cartel, the other by Pablo’s people. Over the past year, the properties have been tracked down by individuals thinking they will find large qualities of cash hidden, thus we sometimes find holes all over the walls after a tenant leaves.

    For Narcos fans, those who love the gangster genre, or just those who just like seein beautiful Latin women, there’s good news; Netflix’s has confirmed Season 3 and 4.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.