Fictional drama and real killings
In the pilot episode of “Ingobernable” (Ungovernable), a Mexican TV drama, things get moving when a violent confrontation between President Diego Nava (Eric Hayser) and First Lady—or “Primera Madre”—Emilia Urquiza (Kate del Castillo) culminates in the death of the President.
And a cinematic death it is: Diego Nava falling off a balcony in the midst of a thunderstorm and landing on the roof of an SUV.
But it’s Emilia who is the core of the series. She wakes up soon after her husband falls, rain-soaked, with a gun in her hand. Naturally, she is the immediate suspect, and the series details her life as a fugitive wandering the streets of Mexico City and hiding from authorities, which isn’t difficult, given the capital’s 16 million population.
Pretty soon, it becomes clear that President Nava died not because of injuries from his fall, but because of a bullet hole in his head. Who killed him? And why? Those are questions to which Emilia must find the answers, with the help of a ragtag crew of gangsters and petty criminals, including a recently-freed inmate for whom the First Lady had pulled strings to get his early release.
“Ingobernable” makes for fascinating viewing, and not just for Mexicans and Latinos. Filipinos, too, will feel an eerie sense of familiarity, and not just because of our shared Hispanic culture.
Just like here, the central goal of the Nava administration seems to be to eradicate the drug menace, which in terms of global reality, is perhaps a hundred times worse in Mexico. Along with Colombia, Mexico lies in the nexus of the drug trade aimed at the wealthier realm of the United States.
Indeed, a few episodes into the series, it becomes increasingly clear that drugs—and the US-sponsored cross-border war that fuels the body count—have something to do with the President’s killing.
The conflict between the First Couple is rooted in the seeming abandonment by the President of his once-shared vision with Emilia to address the poverty and violence affecting poor Mexicans. Instead, he lets the military and its American advisers go after the poor: kidnapping suspects, “disappearing” many others, destroying communities, and fostering an atmosphere of fear and suspicion.
While Emilia continues to work with human rights groups, her husband pursues a policy of militarizing the country’s response to the drug problem. But Emilia finds out that just before their fierce quarrel as she prepares to leave the marriage and divorce her husband, he was in fact considering abandoning his antidrug policy and actions and pursuing their original vision.
It turns out that Diego was preparing to go on national TV to announce a radical shift in policy. He was to abandon the violent war on drugs and denounce the United States for “exporting” its drug problem when it was the Americans’ “hunger” for drugs that was fueling the nefarious trade.
Was this why President Nava ended up dead on the roof of an SUV? And was this why Emilia was being framed for his murder?
Listening to President Nava’s prepared speech, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of envy at this (fictitious) official’s change of heart, and hope that perhaps, no matter how remote the possibility, the same shift in policy and attitude could take place among our own officials, President Duterte especially.
The President in “Ingobernable” blamed the United States as the source of all their bloody troubles from the war on drugs. In our case, China seems to be the source of much of the drugs streaming in here, but our President seems to be reaching out and embracing the Chinese instead, even claiming he was “helpless” against the Chinese traffickers.
I wish Mr. Duterte would have time to sit down and watch this series, even if only for the scenes where Nava reads his prepared speech which he never got to deliver. In the drama show, Nava says all the resources that they had been pouring into the war on drugs could be put to better use addressing the problems of poverty, health and education. Would that we hear the same words from the mouth of Mr. Duterte!
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