I took some time last night and read the Rolling Stone interview of El Chappo Guzman which was written by Sean Penn. Generally, my opinion of Rolling Stone magazine is very unfavorable and often they sensationalize reports primarily in what appears to be an effort to keep themselves relevant in the discussion of current events and to survive as a "Magazine". Sean Penn is another topic. I would have to admit that he and I have an entirely different view of the world and it is unlikely we see too many things in the same vein.
For those of you who may not be aware, Sean Penn has a well documented history of siding with Socialist and Dictators. He has befriended controversial leaders like Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and he even suggested that anyone referring to Chavez as a "dictator" should be arrested. Now, I should specify, he was suggesting American's be arrested in America for saying Chavez is a "dictator". So much for the 1st Amendment.
Penn also supports Argentina's claim to the Falkland Islands and has made some outrageous comments which irritated many, including denouncing all "capitalism and colonialism", which is ludicrous and hypocritical simultaneously.
But Sean Penn manipulated a Mexican Actress, who El Chappo had befriended when the actress posted supporting comments of El Chappo and his drug organization and Penn ultimately convinced her to contact El Chappo on his behalf. Through a series of covert messages and encrypted communications, he made arrangements to accompany the Actress from California to Central Mexico and then after a drive of approximately 6 hours and a couple of hours flying in small single engine planes side by side at very low elevation, they landed and were again, driven through the jungle for a couple of hours before he met with El Chappo at a mountain top villa which sounds very modest and extremely remote.
Frankly, the description of the travels to actually meet with El Chappo are far more interesting and detailed that the actual interview itself. After spending a few hours together during which they spent some time sizing themselves up and then eating together, El Chappo agreed to allow an interview 8 days later. Well, in summary, the 8 days came and went and the in person interview never occurred. After many delays, Penn forwarded a list of questions to El Chappo's people and after more delays, El Chappo's people interviewed him in Spanish and asked very few of Penn's actual questions. Someone videotaped the interview which is all in Spanish and the camera is very unsteady. Nothing new about El Chappo was revealed. The entire video interview is 17 minutes long.
Surprisingly, El Chappo accepts responsibility for the drug distribution but denies that he is responsible for the associated violence. He claims to never initiate violence and only to "Defend himself". He boasts about the volume of drugs which he has shipped through his group as being more than "half of all sold in the entire world". But he also denies that he is responsible for making this occur and he replies that he is only selling something which others demand. He denies using drugs himself in the last 20 years and says he was never an addict.
Interestingly, he makes the point that his arrest and subsequent imprisonments have done nothing to either slow or defer any of the sales or distribution of illicit drugs anywhere in the world. He states that when he is dead, drugs will still flow and nothing will change.
He claims to be extremely close to his mother and children and it sounds as if he has several sons in their early 20's to mid to upper 30's. Frankly, when you read about how he has to live with all of the security and restrictions and constant threats, he is only "free" in that he is not imprisoned within a government facility. But he is certainly someone on the run and always looking over his shoulder extremely closely.
The only part of the actual "story" which I found interesting was how the communications and other correspondence occurs surrounding El Chappo. I also found El Chappo's naming of many "prominent" Mexican and Multinational Corporations interesting, who's names are specifically deleted from the story, as having laundered his enterprises illicit proceeds and how many have offered to assist him in "laundering the drug proceeds" for a fee, of course, of up to 25%.
The level of corruption demonstrated in the information provided should surprise no one. The armored plated vehicles known to be those belonging to the Cartel are often waved past "Government Check points". Apparently, they even have contacts within the Mexican Air Force and other branches of the Military which provide them details about when surveillance planes are launched and when the government has special monitoring efforts in place and other key information which permits such movements around the country. They are even provided radar operational details to permit them to fly about. Obviously, money buys whatever information you are willing to pay for.
Does El Chappo feel responsible for all of the deaths which have occured as a result of his massive drug empire? No, not really as he doesn't control what other people do (so he says). El Chappo is portrayed as a "simple rural Mexican" who had no choice but to go into drugs because of the poverty, which is likely true as there are many who follow his same route to "trafficking" on different scales as he has. The area which El Chappos was raised is extremely poor and offer no opportunities even to this day.
El Chappo is described as very polite, very self assured but not arrogant and also a "Robin Hood" type figure among many of the Mexican people. Based upon the massive amount who work for him either outright or live on his payroll, it's no wonder he is viewed as such by those who he supports. And then of course, we always have to always keep whatever Sean Penn has said as suspect to it's motives.
In the end, did I learn anything about El Chappo which I didn't already know or surmise? No. Did anything surprise me? Well, the mere fact that he would risk exposing his location to meet with Penn seems like incredibly poor judgement to me. Clearly, El Chappo has created a Frankenstein of massive global proportions which will likely never be defeated, regardless of the amount of money and government involvement. And like El Chappo himself said, "When he is gone, someone else will just step in and take over."
Does this mean I condone illegal drugs? Absolutely NOT. I have seen first hand the devastation and destruction which they cause. I have had to help best friends bury their adult children who lost their lives to drug use. Do I support the legalization of drugs? No, but I am also realistic in the fact that just because they are illegal doesn't mean they will be eradicated and cease to exist. Do I condone what El Chappo has done? Of course not, to do so would be to condone all of the violence and destruction of human lives which occurs each second of every day. I would prefer to live in a world where illegal drugs don't exist, but that isn't possible nor is it even a reality.
Here is a link to the actual 10,000 word interview if you are interested enough to read it yourself.
El Chapo Speaks | Rolling Stone