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The limited series, with six chapters of about one hour, is available in more than 240 countries since August 12th on the Prime Video streaming platform. Photo: Courtesy - Prime Video.
The limited series, with six one-hour episodes, premiered in more than 240 countries on Aug. 12 on Amazon Prime. Photo: Prime Video.

A series through the eyes of García Márquez

'News of a Kidnapping,' written by the Nobel Prize winner in Literature, inspired a TV show that gives visibility to victims of narcoterrorism in the 90s.

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“I want to tell you one thing: This is a machine gun with a silencer, nobody knows where you are or with whom. If you scream or do anything, we will vanish you in a minute and no one will ever hear from you again.” Those were the words of a masked, burly and unscrupulous man to his hostages, Beatriz Villamizar and Maruja Pachón.

It was Nov. 7, 1990, and Colombia was beginning to write a new painful and bloody chapter, to which the famous writer Gabriel García Márquez dedicated a masterpiece: Noticia de un secuestro (News of a Kidnapping). Now it is premiering on TV as a limited series with contributions from Rodrigo García Barcha, his eldest son and a film director.

Gabo, the Nobel Prize winner in Literature, narrated in detail the kidnapping of journalists Beatriz Villamizar, Diana Turbay, Azucena Liévano and Francisco Santos Calderón; cameraman Richard Becerra; Marina Montoya, sister of the then-secretary general of the President; and Maruja Pachón, a politician and publicist.

Pablo Escobar, head of the Medellin Cartel, ordered their kidnapping. The drug trafficker’s plan was carried out in the name of the criminal group ‘Los Extraditables’ to pressure Colombian authorities not to hand them over to the U.S. They gained the acceptance of sectors of the population amid its war against the Colombian State. As Gabo wrote: “Pablo Escobar had achieved a credibility that the guerrillas never had in their best days. People came to believe more in the lies of ‘Los Extraditables’ than in the truths of the Government."

Their terrorist acts sought to rock society with a manifesto that became their purpose: “We prefer a grave in Colombia to a cell in the United States.”

Without Excess or Vulgarity

There are many productions in movies and television about Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Cartel, but little has been done by the entertainment industry to make his victims visible with humanity and dignity.

The limited series, Noticia de un secuestro, pays tribute to all the people who survived the nightmare, including Diana Turbay and Marina Montoya, murdered while being held captive by ‘Los Extraditables.’

The production is directed by Chilean Andrés Wood, accompanied by María Elena Wood, Matías Cardone, Macarena Cardone, Patricio Pereira, Lourdes Díaz, Stuart Ford, Cristina Garza and Rodrigo García Barcha.

In a conversation with AL DÍA, García Barcha spoke about his motivation for getting involved in the production: “The desire to collaborate with my father in some way, the desire to do something in Colombia that I have never done, to take advantage of the opportunity to tell a story that does not exalt drug trafficking, the excesses and vulgarities of the drug lords, but tells the story of the victims.”

He also indicated that “the challenge of this limited series was to do justice to the people who were kidnapped, some survived, others sadly did not, and to the suffering of their families. My first debt is to them. Many of them gave us their blessing and even helped and advised us. Others didn’t get involved, but didn’t stop it from happening either.”

One of the people García refers to is María Carolina Hoyos Turbay, daughter of Diana Turbay, who has grown very close to Majida Issa, who plays her mother.

“She was very close to the process; very generously, shared with me her feelings, her memories, her mother’s experiences. She has a diary of Diana’s kidnapping. I did not ask her to read it, but she shared with me a great part of that experience and I found it intimate and painful. I am grateful to her because she has been very close to the series and is very interested in watching it,” said the Colombian actress.

“We are talking about people who exist and who have had to suffer the scourge of kidnapping, its effects, its wounds, and many of them are still in mourning. This series represents a responsibility and an opportunity to think and put the eye on the victims and analyze what is happening in this country and why we have not been able to break this circle and continue to mourn our compatriots who have nothing to do with terrorism or drug trafficking,” added Issa.

She, as well as Cristina Umaña (Maruja Pachón) and Juan Pablo Raba (Alberto Villamizar, Pachón’s husband), hopes the new TV production will help Colombia remember its recent history and not to forget a scourge that continues to claim the lives of innocent people.

The cast of Noticia de un secuestro is rounded out by Carmenza Gómez (Marina Montoya), Julieth Restrepo (Beatriz Villamizar) and Constanza Duque (Nydia Quintero, Diana Turbay’s mother).

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