Colombia’s Unburied Corpses

Dariela Aquique

HAVANA TIMES — TV series and soap operas are the two audiovisual products most widely consumed by Latin American audiences. A favorite topic for both is the issue of drug trafficking, as programs such as El cartel de los Sapos (“The Sapos Cartel”), La ruta blanca (“The White Path”), El Capo (“Crime Boss”), La Reina del Sur (“Queen of the South”) and others attest to.

These, we should bear in mind, are merely works of fiction that dramatize the issue of drug smuggling, from Colombia to the United States.

In 2012, thousands of people here followed every new chapter of the Colombian TV series Pablo Escobar: el patron del mal (“Pablo Escobar: Evil Mastermind”) aired by Canal Caracol and seen in Cuba thanks to Internet pirating. The series dramatized the biography of Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria, the proverbial drug lord, resurrected once again for the lead in a mini-series.

Though some names were changed, the series was quite accurate in the chronology of events and in the identity of the victims, particularly the most renowned public or political figures in Colombia at the time.

Stock footage and outstanding performances by the cast breathed new life into the Colombian anti-hero. It would seem, however, that Escobar is not the only one who has come back from the grave. Another notorious character, Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha, has been taking TV screens by storm since the last months of 2013.

The series Alias: El Mexicano (“Alias: The Mexican”), co-produced by RCN Television and FOX Telecolombia, is based on the life of another infamous mafioso from that somber period in Colombia’s history.

Glossing over this criminal’s life entails a look at hair-raising episodes in Colombia’s history during the 1960s, when thuggery became a livelihood for many in the country.

Back in the days when the Bank of Colombia supposedly controlled the prospecting for emeralds in Boyaca, thousands of treasure hunters fought and killed each other over the precious stones.

This fearful crime-boss, whose innumerable crimes turned him into one of Colombia’s most wanted, cut his teeth as a henchman for one such band of treasure hunters, in the war for control over the green gold. In the 90s, he was killed by the army.

It is probably no accident that Venezuela’s TV channel Telesur is currently airing a documentary series titled Las victimas de Pablo Escobar (“The Victims of Pablo Escobar”), a program that includes interviews, photographs and stock footage related to Escobar. Its aim is to again show us how monstrous drug trafficking can be and the corruption, lawless violence, acts of terror and suffering it can lead to.

Such efforts, however, aren’t enough. We know too well that Escobar, The Mexican and quite a few others have regrettably become icons for many. Today, many young Latin Americans look on these crime bosses as idols.

Combatting drug trafficking has become a priority for some governments in the continent. Other governments, in contrast, reap the “benefits” this ill offers them and play along, because of the immense amounts in bribes they secure.

The truth of the matter is that revisiting the lives of these criminals can have nefarious consequences, because we can’t be certain whether the examples they set will inspire good or evil. It will always depend on the moral backbone of the viewer (and their social status as well, of course).

Colombia should be wary of its unburied corpses.

Dariela Aquique

Dariela Aquique: I remember my years as a high school student, especially that teacher who would interrupt the reading of works and who with surprising histrionics spoke of the real possibilities of knowing more about the truth of a country through its writers than through historical chronicles. From there came my passion for writing and literature. I had excellent teachers (sure, those were not the days of the Fast-track Teachers) and extemporization and the non-mastery of subjects was not tolerated. With humble pretenses, I want to contribute to revealing the truth about my country, where reality always overcomes fiction, but where a novel style shrouds its existence.

28 thoughts on “Colombia’s Unburied Corpses

  • January 19, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    If you are a liberal you certainly support both capitalism and the foreign policy objectives of the United States both of which are anathema to anyone who is a socialist, communist or anarchist .
    If you are a liberal in the United States you are on the center-right of the political spectrum which runs from communism, socialism and anarchism on the left to the far right such as Cheney, Limbaugh et al.
    Of course it is normal for the corporate media which is owned by the very wealthy to term anyone to the left of Limbaugh as left and to totally omit mention of the left as represented by Noam Chomsky and others who are socialists, communists or anarchists and who are banned from the corporate media. ,
    You are absolutely correct in saying that we , on the left , have no effect on today’s political scene but we will have the last laugh as capitalism will see its end within 15 years and we , on the left, don’t have to lift a finger to have it happen of its own doing.
    I am far from frustrated as I plan on being around to see it happen and , in fact, I AM seeing it happening in ways that will blindside you . I have never been so pleased with the way things are going in my 45 years of activism .
    You can Google up “when machines replace humans ” , the “technological future of labor ” and things like that and get a good look at the future and it does not, cannot possibly include capitalism .
    The super-human AI and very advanced robotics that will be developed in ten years time guarantee an end to most human labor and you cannot have capitalism without paychecks for humans to spend.
    Yeah, yeah, YOU think its not possible , that it’s science fiction but do look into it deeply enough, spend four or five days researching the advance of the machines and you’ll see what is coming and much sooner than you think.
    It also means the end of U.S. imperialism.

  • January 18, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Not sure what “Left” you belong to but it has very little to do wih my liberal beliefs. And I consider myself quite liberal in many respects. I even…shock of shocks…wish and have actively promoted dropping the embargo.

    But you? Thank goodness you and your ilk are as fringe as you can get and will never able to effect any change in this country. Must be terribly frustrating for you.

  • January 17, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    There are no reliable sources as regards Fidel dealing drugs that come from the U.S corporate media which includes PBS ( Public Bull Shit as we on the left call it.)
    Miami based sources have an obvious axe to grind and a particular audience to which they can sell anything that badmouths Cuba.
    Scholarly ?
    These accusations never came to anything did they?
    The court decided that they had insufficient evidence to proceed.

  • January 15, 2014 at 9:31 am

    If you can find a lie as said by Fidel Castro is any of the books or speeches by him, feel free to post them.
    Absent such proof, you’re blowing smoke .
    The Cubans , as a sovereign people , have a right to any arms they deem necessary and especially in the face of past and present U.S foreign policy history.
    In the case of Cuba dealing with the madman regime in North Korea, the enemy of my enemy is my friend is the operative thinking .

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