narcos, and the war on drugs

Watching Netflix’s Narcos produces conflicted feelings in me. I’m not that familiar with Pablo Escobar, but still quite sure he was a terrible person. Obviously, the character in the show is humanised, and constructed to induce sympathy in the viewer. But what’s actually more conflicting to me, is the underlaying war on drugs and clash of ideas.

What I can’t help seeing in the undertones, are battles against a crime that could be solved in much easier ways.

 humanising evil people

Main characters are seldom portrayed as completely inhuman or evil fashion. Even the anti-hero should have some redeeming qualities, and in Narcos, Escobar seems to exhibit familial love and a some kind of an ideological stance on American imperialism.

Escobar somewhat reminds me of Walter White, though Escobar was an actual person. He is shaped by real events, instead of a writer trying to keep his main character likeable. I suspect the more factually correct events we see, the worse the impression of him becomes. And so Pablo grows more and more despicable and unlikeable as the show goes on. After around halfway of the season, I eventually considered him the villain, instead of an anti-hero.

The protagonists, incorruptible Colombians and a few American DEA agents are the evident good guys. On a personal level, they truly are. What bothers me is the ideology supporting their actions and driving the push on exterminating all drugs.

 the war on drugs

The war on drugs, launched by Nixon and made worse by Reagan, is sketchy at best. This war is responsible for innumerable amount of death and crime, both in the usually poor countries that produce the substances, as well as in the endpoint ones.

Prohibition boosts prices and directs the business to criminals. It prevents proper care, incarcerates otherwise functioning citizens and hides the potential positive effects and education. The ridiculous and blatantly stupid negative effects of the prohibition are clear and documented.

The war itself, is somewhat of an ideological war. It has no clear enemy, and is at the same time a war against poorer, enabling countries, and a war against a countries own citizens. The war is fought against criminals funded by tax payers money, and at worst, those financiers’ lives are ruined for trying to have good time or bettering their lives. Drug cartels are by no means a positive thing, and I don’t advocate any of their activities. It’s just a fact that they are upheld by demand that is not otherwise met.

Watching Narcos, I can’t help but think that the events acted out there are ultimately not caused by a few Colombian’s greed, but by an internationally subscribed, very bad idea.

Escobar was a smuggler before encountering cocaine. He was a criminal either way, but I can’t imagine producing a similar death toll when smuggling television sets.


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