The response to Sean Penn’s surprising and timely interview with Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in Rolling Stone has been mixed, which is putting it lightly. Most people are flabbergasted by the interview, many for different reasons. This includes Penn’s style of writing, the questions tossed at “El Chapo,” the final approval given to the drug lord by Rolling Stone, and Penn’s lack of contact with authorities following the meeting. The latter point seems to be a sticking point for authorities who, as we noted, are investigating Penn and Mexican actress Kate del Castillo:
ABC News reported Saturday night that Penn is now under investigation for the interview, according to a Mexican official. Since Penn had been in contact with Guzman for several months, authorities are presumably interested to find out why the actor did not earlier share any information on the wanted man.
None of El Chapo’s soldiers or associates spoke in English, so the jungle meeting was translated by Castillo, whom the drug lord had been in contact with after she tweeted a plea to him to use his power to help people. But the first contact was more of a meet and greet; the actor then spent several weeks trying to contact El Chapo via Castillo, and finally received a video answering the questions he had submitted.
In a radical departure from journalistic practice, the entire Rolling Stone story was submitted to El Chapo for approval, and Penn says the drug lord did not ask for any changes.
Most folks took to their social media platform of choice to talk about the interview, with many journalists criticizing the way it was handled and the ethics behind it all:
Some of the ire is likely drawn from passages like the following, which plants itself firmly in a grey area within the controversial war on drugs:
“As an American citizen, I’m drawn to explore what may be inconsistent with the portrayals our government and media brand upon their declared enemies. Not since Osama bin Laden has the pursuit of a fugitive so occupied the public imagination. But unlike bin Laden, who had posed the ludicrous premise that a country’s entire population is defined by – and therefore complicit in – its leadership’s policies, with the world’s most wanted drug lord, are we, the American public, not indeed complicit in what we demonize? We are the consumers, and as such, we are complicit in every murder, and in every corruption of an institution’s ability to protect the quality of life for citizens of Mexico and the United States that comes as a result of our insatiable appetite for illicit narcotics.”
While some might agree, others would have a hard time believing they have a hand in acts like “mutilating 49 people and piling their bodies — heads, hands and feet missing — by the side of a road leading to the U.S. border,” as described in the LA Times.
Many other folks online decided to take a more comedic route to Penn’s interview.
And let’s not forget that Penn and Kate del Castillo may still face trouble with the cartel itself, especially with so many headlines noting that Penn’s interview was one of the main factors that led to to the cartel leader’s capture. It is not the first time that a movie star has been targeted by members of organized crime, especially from south of the border:
As for Guzman himself, he looks to be heading to the United States if all goes the way authorities would like. Mexico has reportedly agreed to send “El Chapo” to the United States to face charges in Brooklyn.
The kingpin is currently back in the same facility he escaped in July, and the process for extradition will be lengthy according to the Daily News:
Mexico’s most notorious drug lord could be Brooklyn-bound after all, officials announced Saturday in a stunning reversal.