Drug Kingpins In Popular Culture

I’m currently watching the Netflix original ‘El Chapo’ about Mexican drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman. As I did with ‘Narcos’ the show about Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. Both brilliant in their own ways. These men are both drug traffickers (perhaps the worst), murderers and one of them was a serial bomber. Their actions resulted in several deaths. The leader of the Medellin cartel and the leader of the Sinaloa cartel should be hated for all they’ve done. At best they’re polarising but in reality they lean on the side of being popular and adored.

What made these criminals so popular? Some would even go as far to describe them as heroes. There are murals of these men, art work available to buy, places named after them and t-shirts with their faces on. There was even a young child that went viral dressed as Pablo Escobar at a children’s party. These men are celebrated. Celebrities even look up to them. American artists have made songs about ‘El Chapo’. The Game’s El Chapo lyrics seem to worship Guzman saying “I am the God El Chapo, I am the God”. Noel Gallagher had a Narcos/Escobar themed party a few weeks ago. And lets not forget that Sean Penn interview.

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(UFC Champion Conor McGregor sporting a Pablo Escobar vest last week)

Would rapists, terrorists and other criminals be celebrated like this? I think not. So why is it different for drug lords such as El Chapo and Pablo Escobar.

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(Mural of ‘El Chapo’)

Is it because they came from nothing to become billionaires? Regardless of how they did it. Is it because Escobar was a family man? Perhaps because they rose above their corrupt governments? Maybe because their supporters want drugs legalised? Is it because they were men of the people who spread their wealth and were philanthropists. Escobar was very popular amongst the poor where he was from as he would give them money and build schools and hospitals. He worked hard to gain a ‘Robin Hood’ image. In reality this was just to get the public on his side in his war against the police. El Chapo also gained immense support from his community through his charity work.

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(“El Chapo is the defender and protector of the people, we demand his liberation”)

These men ran their respective organisations with brutal and despicable violence. When threatened by the government with deportation to the USA, Escobar ordered terrorist attacks, assassinations, bombs, and attacks on political landmarks. He is guilty of the murder of other 1,000 people, which includes several civilians. Notably he ordered the bombing of the Avianca flight 203 and the DAS building bombing. And Guzman started the Mexican drug cartel war, which has since claimed well over 60,000 lives.

Both men are obsessed with greed and power and were willing to do anything to get to the top. For some their philanthropy outweighed all the evil they had committed. Some even viewed it as ‘necessary evil’ as the government didn’t look after it’s people. That’s why these people looked up to Guzman and Escobar, because they gave them hope and inspired the poor to become something they dream of. But the fact that they are still popular now is a mystery, with all we know about these men and the monstrous crimes they committed, they should be hated and nothing else. Sure these men had redeeming qualities like patriotism and generosity. But at the end of the day they are criminals and should be treated as such.

It is an interest concept as to why these men are so popular. We know they are hated by many but also loved by many. We’d love to know your opinions and why you think it is that drug lords are often so popular, even today.




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