Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Robin Hood from Medellin

“I can tolerate poverty but not misery” 

Pablo Escobar- to love him or to hate him? He used his cocaine money to build churches, schools, and housing for the poor. But he also hurt many innocent vigilantes in the process. As I delve further into the telenovela, I become more torn as to what I think of him. Taking notes helps me objectify the writer's motives but I can't help but hurt in Escobar's failure, support his adulterous relationship with Regina, and celebrate as new plants are built in the Columbian jungle. 

The past ten episodes have been full of important changes. First, Pati is no longer beautiful and innocent. She is critical and a bit average looking. She constantly suspects that Pablo is cheating but, is reassured of his loyalty every time he sweet talks her (something he is VERY good at). Pablo seems to get annoyed with her very easily when she does not obey him. However, one of the most endearing scenes comes when Pati tells him that she is pregnant with their second child. He is overjoyed at the news and once again, we fall in love with the character of Pablo Escobar when he asks his wife for a "little princess". We even excuse the fact that he was in the pool with Regina when Pati called. 

Second, the character of Carlos Galan is introduced. Although he is the epitome of the heroic vigilante, he reminds me of Harvey Dent from Batman -- the public servant whose motives are not always pure. He is important because as he explains to his son, this is the first time a candidate from an independent party has received so many votes without using corrupt schemes and payoffs. From my knowledge of Escobar's real life, I am on the lookout for foreshadowing of Galan's death. I find it interesting that the antagonists of this show are always the 'good' guys. First, Mr. Adelmar, the vigilante shopkeeper who snitched on Pablo and Gonzalo. And now, Galan, the politician bent on exposing Escobar's shady past. 

Lastly, as Escobar attempts to enter into the Columbian Parliament building, he is denied for not wearing a tie. Although this scene may seem trivial, it is a reminder of the fact that Pablo does not fit in. He is a pretender. If he is the metaphor of Cinderella, the clock has struck midnight and his ball-gown has faded away. This scene is very important because it makes us remember that everything can be taken away from Pablo instantly - as Regina notes, he has money but no class. 

Escobar the Politician
“I honestly think it makes no sense to make the rich richer… Give everything to those that have nothing” ~Pablo Escobar, ep. 9

Adding to the list of reasons why the audience empathizes with Escobar -- he is truly a man of the people. Although he is now a prominent businessman, he still recognizes the struggles of the working class and even donates money to the commander of a socialist guerrilla army. We see three different scenes of Escobar going to slums of Columbia and talking to people. One man even says a politician has never entered his neighborhood -- "We do not have the support of the government. Help from the outside never gets in." This strikes a chord with audience and is an obvious attempt from the writer to bring to the light the social issue of homelessness and poverty. Why are the rich so rich and the poor so poor? In this way, Escobar is a hero because he transcends this dichotomy of wealthy and poor in the name of uniting Columbia. 

**When Escobar gives money to the guerrilla leader, he cites the political ideology of Lenin. Lenin was a Marxist who supported the proletariat, or working class, in becoming more politically active and forming organizations to gain power over other classes. 
"Plato o Plomo"- It's All or Nothing

In the words of Escobar, "plato o plomo" means silver or lead -- it's all or nothing. I knew Escobar was bold at the beginning of the series but as time goes on he is extending his risky behavior from his public sphere into his private life. He is now risking his marriage and the safety of his family for business success and to hide affairs. I am anxious for the future of the show. What will become of his marriage? What will become of his business? Looking forward, I am worried he is becoming too reckless. 

National Geographic Documentary on Escobar
When I told my parents I was studying this telenovela, they recommended the above documentary from National Geographic. It once again highlights Escobar's appeal to the people - he embraced the poor, working class and threatened whoever dared to oppose him. Both of these factors won him favor with the Columbian people (many were not vocal of their opposition). As the Columbian and US governments worked to capture Escobar, they employed amazing military technologies to find his precise location (in fact, this one seems too advanced for 1993). One of the most interesting parts is at 19:30 when US officials use voice recognition technology to identify Escobar's voice when he is using a cellphone amongst the millions of people in Medellin  As officials flew overhead in a helicopter, they easily pinpoint his location. I was shocked at the amount of work that went into Escobar's capture. 

Connections to Class
1. Consumption. That is an understatement. All over the world people tuned into Patron del Mal. As we study more about consumption, I will post more about ratings and international ratings...

2. This past week we discussed the tell-all book of Pablo's ex-lover - Virginia Vallejo. In a quick search, I discovered that the book Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar was translated to English in 2011. Her life is especially important as we examine the aftermath of Escobar's death and the ramifications of his crimes against humanity, assassinations, and international smuggling accusations. She is caught in the middle of this crossfire and was even asked to testify in the case of the assassination of Carlos Galan . Ultimately, she sought political asylum that was granted by the judge of the International Criminal Court. She later moved to the United States. 

Lastly, on a funny note...Who wore it better? Me or Pati? Vote in the comments section! 

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