Fact and Fiction in “Narcos: Mexico” (Season 2)

Fact and Fiction in “Narcos Mexico” (Season 2)


With so much time that we have to spend indoors these weeks, it means we have plenty of time to stream our favorite shows and where better to start if not with the Netflix series “Narcos”? Today we’ll be taking a look at what’s real and what’s Hollywood in the most recent season of the acclaimed series.

What is the series about?

This series acts as a sort of prequel to the very successful “Narcos” series that ended in 2017 but while the original focuses on the drug trade in Columbia, this series is, as you can tell from the title, about the origin of the drug war in Mexico. Put on your rifle backpack and see if you can hold your own against these bad boys.

The series starts at a time when drug trafficking was an independent and non-organized affair but later things start to move differently as the Guadalajara Cartel, led by Felix Gallardo, starts to take over in the 1980s. He works on uniting the drug operation into one in his desire to create a drug empire.

As with any adaptation of real events, certain liberties were taken in order to speed through some moments, make the viewer understand the situation better and so on which means some real-life characters were combined into one while certain events happened in a different order or didn’t happen at all.

Was Walt Breslin real?

The main protagonist of the first season, Kiki Camarena, was based on a real person, but we can’t say the same thing about DEA agent Walt Breslin. This character is a composite one, taking inspiration from the people who actually worked on operation Leyenda with the aim of taking down Felix and his cartel.

As a result, scenes that involve this character are fictionalized and may represent things that happened to several other people, not just one person. The final conversation between Breslin and Felix is also a fictional creation with dramatic purposes since it didn’t happen in real life.

How rigged was the 1988 Mexican election?

When watching the series, you are bound to think “it couldn’t have been that rigged!” Well, it seems that the writers of the show actually stayed pretty true to fact. In fact, even former president Miguel de la Madrid (who was in office until the 1988 election) spoke about the events in his autobiography.

He mentioned that the corruption level was really high and that when the PRI declared themselves as the winners of the election the official count of the votes hadn’t even been finished. This was still pretty well known even before he admitted to those things happening, but it was nice to have a confirmation.

In fact, as far back as 2004, The New York Times has spoken to historians and political analysts who said that the 1988 Mexico election is maybe the direst example of fraud to ever come out of the PRI in their efforts to control Mexico for over seven decades. Just like in the show, when the early counts were pointing to PRI losing, they didn’t tell the public they lost.

What they chose to do was lying that the computer system stopped working and took it upon themselves to declare PRI as the winner of the election before the opposition could have done anything about it.

While it’s also true that the ballots were burned so no evidence could ever be found, this didn’t happen right away like in the show, but actually three years later, after the election, in 1991.

Did Clavel really kill Palma’s children?

It may seem implausible but the feud between Rafael Clavel and Hector Palma was actually more gruesome than what was seen in the show. Clavel seduced Guadalupe, Palma’s wife, and proceeded to kill her and their children, but there are differences to the real-life events which took place in 1989.

Clavel made Guadalupe withdraw as much as 7 million dollars from the bank and then cut off her head. He took it and shipped it to Palma. Two weeks later he took the children and threw them off of a bridge at the border. Palma fought back and killed Clavel’s kids and later also killed Clavel.

What moments from the series made you doubt what was real and what was fiction?

NCS