Mexican star Diego Luna believes the cross-border politics between his country and the US is mostly about the ‘you against me’ rhetoric, which he believes only polarises people.
Luna, who was in India to promote the latest season of Netflix drama Narcos, said it would be wrong to see Mexico’s drug menace from a “black-and-white” lens.
He stars as notorious drug lord Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo opposite Michael Pena’s DEA agent Kiki Camarena.
“We have to stop talking about it as a black-and-white, good-and-bad kind of rhetoric because that polarises things. It just radicalises positions. There’s ‘you against me’ and ‘I build the wall to protect myself from you’ (rhetoric) and you are like ‘No, this is an issue that we both have to work on’,” he said.
The 38-year-old actor, best known for films such as Y Tu Mama Tambien, The Terminal and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, said it was worrisome to see this rhetoric growing in politics.
“You are seeing this rhetoric in politics and it is growing in Brazil, in Colombia, the States and in my country, Mexico. I hope we find a way to realise that there is a lot in between. We don’t have to think the same way to work on the same goals. We can think differently and still work together for a common goal,” he said.
“Narcos” has been a major global success for Netflix, whose previous three seasons chronicled the rise of Pablo Escobar’s Medellin Cartel and later of the Cali Cartel. With the new season, Narcos: Mexico, the show shifts to Mexico. It starts streaming from November 16.
Luna said it was important to look at the root of the Mexican drug menace, which according to reports, is responsible for the death of over 100,000 people in the last decade.
“It is fundamental to what we are living today. It is about the time when the States closed the routes to the Caribbean for cocaine to get to the market. Mexico became like a crucial point in terms of feeding this market. It is when things started to change and create the mess we are living in today. So to understand our present, we need to go back in time and reflect on the past,” he said.
While growing up in the 1980s Mexico, Luna heard stories about Gallardo’s Guadalajara Cartel but Luna said he realised later that the problem was more complex than the “good guys versus bad guys” narrative.
“When you analyse (you realise) the whole structure is complicated. It involved every level of power – the politicians, the police, the military, the politicians on the both sides of the border, the police on the both sides of the border, the banks and how the money moved around in the countries.
“It (the show) reminds you that things are more complicated than we think. And in order to solve this, we should be willing to change the whole system because corruption has reached every level of power.”
There seems to be a surge in Mexican stories in popular culture with the trinity of filmmakers — Alfonso Cuaron, Alejandro G Inarritu, and Guillermo del Toro — dominating the Oscars in the last few years. In television, streaming platforms have contributed a lot to the popularity of diverse stories from around the globe.
Luna said it is an exciting time to be a storyteller in Hollywood.
“There is a diversity of opinions being represented the way that was not before. All these platforms, like Netflix, are a great example of that. They are opening the spectrum of voices and of positions. I think that just enriches the conversation,” he said.
The actor believes what has been explored, in terms of Mexican stories, is only the tip of the iceberg.
“It’s the audiences that are changing the content, shaping it. They are saying ‘we want to be represented’, ‘we want our point of view to be represented’ and ‘we want to hear the other side of the story’. That gives me hope.
“In terms of Mexico, Mexican filmmaking and Mexican storytelling, there are so many stories to tell. There is so much that is happening in Mexico that can be told today. So yeah, it is an exciting time to be a storyteller.”
After Narcos: Mexico, Luna will get busy with a series, based around his “Rogue One” character Cassian Andor.
“I am excited to go back to that world and to work with those people because it was a great experience in my life and it is also the movies that I grew up watching. So, I am glad to be a part of that universe,” he said.