SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Mexico's president was jubilant over the recapture El Chapo. Joaquin Guzman, the world's most wanted drug lord, humiliated the government when he escaped from a Mexican prison last summer through an elaborate mile-long tunnel. When El Chapo was recaptured last weekend, President Enrique Pena Nieto tweeted, mission accomplished. But what are Mexican citizens saying about his arrest and the ongoing drug violence there? Genaro Lozano is a columnist in Mexico City, and he teaches politics at the Universidad Iberoamericana. Thanks very much for being with us.
GENARO LOZANO: Thank you, Scott. It's a pleasure to be with you and good morning to everyone.
SIMON: You've been on social media sites. What are a lot of Mexicans saying about this?
LOZANO: People here are discussing over lunches, over tacos and burritos, about the romance between El Chapo and Kate del Castillo, this Mexican actress that was the link between El Chapo and Sean Penn, and also if President Enrique Pena Nieto is going to be able to change the dynamic of his low popularity in the following weeks.
SIMON: So very little feeling that they'll have any impact on drug trafficking and violence?
LOZANO: Yeah, but people are very skeptical about it. I mean, because everybody knows that the fact that El Chapo has been recaptured, it doesn't really change anything in the formula. People are still dying on the streets because of this war on drugs that President Calderon started in 2006. Mayors are being killed. Candidates running for office are also being kidnapped or disappearing. Journalists are living in the country that - it's one of the most dangerous in the world for journalists. And that's another thing that people are discussing, especially the journalists in Mexico know that the quality of Sean Penn's chronicle and interview and the reasons and all the privileges that he had for being able to unite with El Chapo, privileges that journalists in Mexico don't have.
SIMON: Yeah. Is the Rolling Stone article itself getting much play, much attention?
LOZANO: Yeah, the article's getting a lot of attention. But also people started discussing the poor quality of it. And it became at least a conversation in social media about how Sean Penn was actually saying more about himself and his ego rather than telling us a different perspective or a different point of view from El Chapo.
SIMON: Is Joaquin Guzman, El Chapo, any less of a folk hero to some Mexicans now that he's been recaptured?
LOZANO: That was also a discussion, if Sean Penn's piece was portraying him as a hero. And I don't think that in Mexico we consider El Chapo a hero, not as Pablo Escobar was considered a hero in Colombia back in the '80s. People know that El Chapo is not a hero. People know that he's a criminal, that he has committed murders, that he was one of the most wanted men in the world. So I don't think that people consider him a hero. He's just a character that people are wondering about and are very curious about.
SIMON: Has the Mexican government tried to spin this story, as we might say?
LOZANO: Yeah, the Mexican government, I think that has been very intelligent in sharing some information with some newspapers, with some TVs, giving a little bit, giving cookies to different media to portray different stories about El Chapo. And I think that what they're trying to do is to actually stop the Mexican people believing that El Chapo is a hero. And they're attacking him where it hurts most to a Mexican man - machismo. So they're actually portraying a drug lord who wasn't able to perform sexually. So they're giving all these details now about El Chapo having surgery to perform better as a lover. But I think that's actually quite a shaming and quite embarrassing for a man in Mexico.
SIMON: Genaro Lozano, who's a columnist and a professor in Mexico City, thanks so much for being with us.
LOZANO: Thank you. It's a pleasure.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.