On The Aesthetics of Narco-Traffico and the Reality of MISS BALA (Miss Bullet)

Posted on | januari 30, 2012 | No Comments

(Movie: Canana Films, 2011, Mexico; Screenplay by: Gerardo Naranjo & Mauricio Katz. Showing: IFFR, International Film Festival Rotterdam)

Laura Guerrrero and her best Friend Su Su are preparing to participate in the Miss Baja California pageant: Laura a 23 year old young woman from the Barrios of Baja has high hopes, and big dreams and winning the Miss Baja Contest is in her opinion the beginning of all things “beautiful”. Su Su her companion and friend is the reason why they arrive just in the nick of time for their first audience, and the reason behind the small altercations, hostilities and arguments with the other contestants whilst cuing. Su Su is also the reason why Laura decides to skip buying her gown, to accompany Su Su to see some friends in a shady part of town, because according to Su Su they can help her secure a spot as semi-finalist in the pageant. Things turn ugly for Laura as they both approach the men in the big American Clunker Cars, the men dislike her, finding her unattractive and not their style. Su Su begs Laura to wait for her, to come and look for her later in the “Millennium Club”.

Despite misgivings Laura acquiesces, to meet her friend later that evening in at the Millennium. But Su-Su has bigger fish to fry and can barely spare her friend a few seconds of attention. Only in the bathroom does she become loquacious again, only to ask for another favor: she needs company and Laura has to stay, will she stay?

But then doom strikes, the club gets raided by a drug gang run by Lino Valdez, and Laura runs for her life, leaving her friend behind in the commotion. The next day Laura approaches a police-officer for help, and it is at that point in the movie where everything changes, no longer, gay and expecting, the audience is no longer drawn into Laura’s playful preparations and expectations about the pageant.

The movie then turns ugly, a raging storm of violence, its tentacles grabbing the audience by the hair, swiftly engulfing them in a series of criminal events, one after another, after another, after another……no stopping, no respite…..ugliness after ugliness, killing sprees of innocent and not so innocent people. In a hidden corner of the movie, the audience becomes subtly acquainted with the corrupt organizers of the Miss Baja Pageant, but above all with the ruthlessness of criminals, who seem to stop at nothing, whose power seem to surpass that of the local law enforcement, the government, in fact, the criminals seem to have even more power than GOD.

The main character of the movie, Laura demonstrates remarkable tenacity and bravery, trying to do the right thing in an environment determined by corruption and criminality. But Laura’s virtuousness sharply contrasts that of her surroundings; the imbibing of criminality and corruption in the city, the almighty gangs, who seem to operate above and beneath the law, with enough cash to buy everything and everybody, even the jury at the Miss Baja Pageant, who at the surprise and dismay of the audience go on to declare Laura the winner of the pageant. But as the movie enfolds, corruption becomes much more wide-spread, because high ranking officials are also corrupt and immoral; Laura is invited to a party at the General’s mansion, only to find herself to be invited into his bed. As the movie unfolds things get uglier and Laura in the end gets arrested, at which point a barrage of hypocrisy breaks lose, the pageant exonerates itself from all allegations of corruption and wrongdoing, by placing the blame on Laura and her presumed audacity. The police who started this whole ordeal stay silent, covering up their negative track record, their involvement in corruption with a PR offensive. Nobody talks about the fact that Laura was framed, a poor girl looking for her lost, disloyal friend.

The brutality of Miss Bala, the fact that it pushes that kind of criminality into the lap of the audience, forcing them to become part of the ugliness, the gluttony and the vanity, all seen through the eyes of the protagonist, Laura. But Miss Bala is more than a movie: the ugliness, the greed and the vanity are real, all right, part of the Mexican border town everyday reality, where gangs rule and drive by shootings are common as muck. Miss Bala shows the everyday reality of Mexico where policemen are corrupt, supplying their meager income with bribes from cartels, where women who dream to get ahead in live have no other recourse than to befriend criminals.

Miss Bala portrays the missed opportunities, the poverty of a border town in the throes of the war on drugs, the American Drugs Enforcement Agency that continues to believe that strong and forceful action will keep cocaine out of the United States. The United States is working vehemently to make cocaine go away, to apprehend drugs dealers, bringing them to justice in the United States, without much avail. In fact actions by the USA, Immigration Services, to deport a large number of gangsters back to El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala, contributed to the growth of the criminality south of the American border.

The Americans who started the war on cocaine in the 1950s have always maintained the standpoint that eradication and prohibition of drugs will keep the drugs out of their society. But cocaine is fixed feature in certain US subcultures: in the upper classes of Hollywood and New York, but also the inner cities of South Chicago were poor Black Youth are hooked on crack-cocaine.

But the real victims are people like Laura Guerrero, citizens of El Salvador, Guatemala and Rio, where drive-by shootings are an everyday occurrence, cities where a human life means nothing! For the people in Colombia, the obliteration of the Cali- and the Medellin Cartel, meant that the gangsters moved under- ground, dispersing their activities to Suriname, Venezuela, Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Today drug-trafficking involves not only the under – world, drug criminality today is an internationally ramified, economic activity, divided into upper world activities such as the financial support of politicians for office, trade have also become part of the activities of the cartels and under-world activities. The movie indeed provides an accurate impression of the intertwining of the under- world and the upper world, but more than anything the movie shows that in the event of a crime, citizens cannot rely on the police for help. The police is not only part of the corrupt and criminal system, it also uses the law and its monopoly to use violence to infringe upon the rights of the citizens, terrorizing them, putting them at harm’s way.

Miss Bala is above all a movie about thwarted hopes and dreams of a young woman, who in the end walks away, a dead woman walking, or perhaps not! Perhaps, only perhaps if she musters enough strength will she make it out of the hell hole she’s in. Her future is uncertain, but not the future of the gangsters, because they will continue to be an intricate part of the scenery of a border town in the throes of crime and violence.

In Mexico more than 32,000 people lost their lives, in the rest of the continent the numbers of people murdered are equally worrisome. But a clandestine industry that generates more than 25 Billion US dollars annually will not come to a screeching halt anytime soon!

AUTHOR: Natascha Adama
URL: http://natascha23.blogspot.com
E-MAIL: nataliapestova23 [@] yahoo.com

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