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20 December 2017

The day I met ‘El Chapo’

Honorata Zapaśnik

Mexican actress and producer Kate del Castillo claimed in the documentary ‘The Day I Met ‘El Chapo’ that the TV station Televisa encourages its actresses to prostitute themselves. Her confession has caused a stir in the Mexican media. The representatives of Televisa have announced they would sue the actress for defamation, and the Mexican MPs from the Human Rights Commission demand an investigation into discrimination of another actresses.

‘Just go have some fun’ with some men

45-year-old Kate del Castillo has been associated with Televisa for twelve years. Televisa is the largest producer of TV series in Mexico, and she has played in ten soap operas. She says that the experience she had drawn from that period influenced her to move and pursue her career in the United States. She told about her beginnings in Mexican television in her documentary.

– The company made a sexual object out of you. I did not understand that back then, but it frustrated me anyway. Literally, dinners were to ‘offer’ actresses to publishers, because they were the ones who were buying the airtime and investing huge money in Televisa. The first time I was invited when I was filming the soap opera titled Muchachitas and I had a boyfriend named Ari Telch, so I called to confirm the reservation.

‘Thank You, Ali and I will come’, I said and then I heard that it was only me who had been invited. I answered I did not want to come then and I hung up the phone. They called me back and said: ‘What do you mean you do not want to be there?’ They almost let me know that they did not care about my opinion. And then they offered me to ‘go have some fun’ with some men I did not know. It seemed quite poor to me and I have never accepted it.

Do not insult your ‘home’

Kate del Castillo was supported by Epigmenio Ibarra, a well-known television producer. He claimed in the same documentary that women both in the soap operas and in professional relationships were objectified and the word was there were actresses who gained fame in exchange for so-called ‘favors’. – It was a kind of a ‘prepayment’, the same as in Colombia. Television was a kind of prevue and you could have chosen on the screen what you wanted. Some actresses were ready to do everything to get a role – said Ibarra.

According to Mexican actress and singer Dulce Maria such situations still exist. – I started my career at the age of 5, but my mother was with me all the time until my 18th birthday so I never found myself in such situation. Unfortunately, it happens in television environment and in many others as well – said Maria in an interview for the Spanish-language version of the ‘People’ magazine.

However, some artists felt indignation at the words of Kate del Castillo. Actress Carmen Salinas called her ‘an ingrate and a liar’ and reminded her that her dad was still working in Televisa. – You cannot talk about the house, where your father works because he is a great actor, a great man. You must not speak ill of the company that was feeding us – she said during a mass commemorating her deceased son.

The MPs demand an investigation into del Castillo’s allegations because ‘in a frivolous and unjustified way, without giving names, she accuses actresses of prostitution, claiming that they were on the special lists and were offered to men during meals.’ Meanwhile, their indignation has made the public laugh.

– It is a matter of national importance for our politicians, as if they had nothing else to do – a social worker Alejandro Flores is surprised. – When Angelica Rivera, a Mexican soap opera actress, married Enrique Peña Nieto, the future President of Mexico, and it turned out that at the same time Televisa gave her as a gift: 7 million dollars’ worth house, our politicians were not eager to explain this matter – he adds.

The day I met ‘El Chapo’

A TV series ‘The Day I Met ‘El Chapo’ consists of three episodes in which Kate del Castillo makes accusations against Televisa. However, the series mainly describes how did she manage to get to know Joaquin Guzman, ‘El Chapo’, the most wanted drug dealer in Mexico and the leader of the Sinaloa cartel. His criminal organization began to smuggle drugs to the United States on a massive scale in the 1990s. The gang built a network of tunnels with lighting and air conditioning along the border with the USA, opened regular smuggling air service and began to use cargo submarines. In 2011 Forbes magazine claimed Guzman was the richest person in the world.

A year later the actress starred in the series ‘Queen of the South’, about a young Mexican woman who became the most powerful drug dealer in the south of Spain over the years. Once she twitted that she had more confidence in ‘El Chapo’ than in the Mexican government. ‘Wouldn’t it be beautiful if you started to smuggle love?’, she asked rhetorically. It was widely criticised by the public. Her statement met with widespread criticism, but it turned out that the gangster, famous for having a thing for younger women, was a loyal fan of Kate. He sent her some flowers from an El Altiplano high security jail.

Take some wine with you

On July 11, 2005 Guzman managed to escape from prison for the second time, this time through a tunnel which was dug under prison. Soon the criminal got in touch – via his lawyer –  with Kate del Castillo, and proposed her to produce an autobiographical film about his life. The lawyer also handed her the latest model of a Blackberry phone and from then on, they kept contacted often. Finally, they agreed that the actress would visit ‘El Chapo’ in his safe house together with Sean Penn, a well-known American actor, who would interview the criminal for the ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine.

‘My friend, take some wine with you and I will drink it. Normally I do not drink, but your arrival will be beautiful, I want to meet you and be your friend. You are the greatest. You will like it a lot. I will not let you out of my sight, ‘wrote Guzman to del Castillo before the meeting.

‘I will tell you that I feel so safe for the first time. You will know my story when we will be able to talk, but for some reason I feel confident and I know that you understand who I really am. Not only as an actress or a public figure, but also as a woman,’ Kate replied.

Sean Penn betrayed me

In October 2015, the actors were taken to the criminal’s safe house and talked with ‘El Chapo’ for a few hours. They discussed the details of the future film that Guzman dreamed of. Sean Penn was about to meet ‘El Chapo’ for the second time, but that did not happen, as the gangster was targeted by special services in the same month and had to change his place of residence. He only recorded a video answering actor’s questions. Guzman was captured in Los Mochis in Sinaloa state two months later and he is currently awaiting a criminal case in a prison in the United States.

Documentary ‘The day when I met ‘El Chapo’ was shown on October 20, 2017 on Netflix. Kate de Castillo says in that film that she and Sean Penn had an affair after meeting Guzman. She accuses the actor that he betrayed her plans to the Justice Department, and thus put her in danger. Sean Penn described in detail the joint meeting with Guzman and del Castillo in the article for the ‘Rolling Stone’ after capturing ‘El Chapo’ by special services. He was against the film release by his ex-partner. He also officially denies her accusations. – The idea that Mr. Penn, or someone else on his behalf, informed the Justice Department about the meeting is an invention and a lie. It never happened and there was no reason for it to happen – said actor’s spokesman in a statement published in the ‘Variety’ magazine.

Mexican soap-opera

It seems that Guzman’s dream of making a movie inspired by his life has become reality. There is a series produced by Univision titled ‘El Chapo’ on Netflix. However, the criminal believes that the documentary is not credible. – They use his name and image only for financial gain – one of gangster’s attorney said and announced that the case would be brought to court as the TV series may affect the result of the trial against Guzman. The trial will start in the United States in April 2018. The criminal faces life imprisonment.

Last September Kate del Castillo asked for a meeting with ’El Chapo’ in New York’s prison to discuss business issues. She announced that she would come back to the idea of making a biographical film about Guzman straight after she would deal with justice in Mexico. However, this may take a long time because the prosecutor’s office decided to arrest the actress to interrogate her and investigate her links with the drug dealer. Due to new accusations, she is not coming back to Mexico soon. The local press, however, suspects that she is afraid of the revenge of the Sinaloa drug cartel.

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