Emma Coronel: the controversy in Mexico over the appearance of the wife of "El Chapo" Guzmán in the series "Cartel Crew"

Emma Coronel, the 30-year-old, would participate in a chapter of the "Cartel Crew" series, produced by the VH1 television network.

Many were surprised when it was announced that the 30-year-old would participate in a chapter of the "Cartel Crew" series, produced by the VH1 television network. Image: VH1
Many were surprised when it was announced that the 30-year-old would participate in a chapter of the "Cartel Crew" series, produced by the VH1 television network. Image: VH1

At the New York trial of her husband Joaquín Guzmán Loera, "El Chapo," she seemed calm, almost always in silence. Sometimes she talked to journalists after the hearings.

It seemed clear that Emma Coronel Aispuro wanted to keep a low profile, as she did since she married the capo in 2006.

That's why many were surprised when it was announced that the 30-year-old would participate in a chapter of the "Cartel Crew" series, produced by the VH1 television network.

It is a program focused on the daily life of people or relatives linked at some point with drug cartels.

The series began in January and is now in its second season, which includes the chapter where Emma Coronel appears.

The issue sparked controversy in the country, which faces the greatest wave of violence in a century.

Some, such as journalist Javier Garza, former director of the newspaper El Siglo de Torreón, questioned the TV station's decision.

"The idea of showcasing lifestyles obtained thanks to the violence that destroys countries and families is as sick as any narco atrocity," he said on Twitter.

The same idea was expressed by journalist Ioan Grillo, author of several books on drug trafficking in Mexico as "Caudillos del crimen: de la Guerra Fría a las narcoguerras.

"It is a sick and terrible decision on the part of VH1 to have the wife of "El Chapo", Emma Coronel in her reality show 'Cartel Crew'" wrote in the same social network.

"There is a humanitarian catastrophe in Mexico due to the violence of the cartel" in Sinaloa. "This is not a glamorous reality show. Where are the images of the mass graves?

Some even asked to boycott the television station. So far, VH1 has not responded to the critics.

The controversial chapter was scheduled to air on Monday, November 18. The broadcast came four months after Guzmán Loera was sentenced to serve two life sentences in prison.

Attraction to show business

In reality, drug lords in Mexico and other countries tend to look for searchlights and fame, experts tell BBC Mundo.

For example, Guzmán Loera was fond of the television series La Reina del Sur, starring Kate del Castillo and produced by Telemundo.

In October 2015, the capo met with her and actor Sean Penn at their shelter in El Triángulo Dorado, a mountainous region between the states of Sinaloa, Durango, and Chihuahua.

One of the topics of conversation, Penn told Rolling Stone magazine, was the production of a film about her life.

A project that "El Chapo" had been looking for at least since 2007, revealed drug trafficker Alex Cifuentes during the trial against Guzmán Loera in New York.

He even hired a scriptwriter and sought help from film directors, according to the witness at the trial.

But Joaquín Guzmán isn't the only one interested in show business. This is the case of Edgar Valdéz Villarreal, "La Barbie", one of the leaders of the Beltrán Leyva brothers' cartel.

The capo used to visit bars and restaurants frequented by artists and soccer players. In fact "La Barbie" was involved in the investigation into the attack on the player Salvador Cabañas in 2010.

The sportsman was shot in the head as he was departing with actors and footballers in a bar in Mexico City.

Another example of the temptation for fame are the "narcocorridos," which academics say are often sponsored by some gang leaders and posters.

They live their reality

This hobby is usually transmitted to the relatives of the capos, explains José Reveles, author of several books on drug trafficking such as "El Chapo: Entrega y traición" (The Chapo: Delivery and Betrayal).

"They live a life that is not alien to reality but in their reality," he tells BBC Mundo.

"The same thing happens as in show business, many cases of women harassed, deceived or in love through the power that comes from being someone important.

Somehow it could be the case of Emma Coronel and her participation in the television series.

Cartel Crew" tries to show how participants try to lead a normal life, and how they face the consequences of their link with drug trafficking.

The format is known as "reality show" where with several cameras are filmed all the details and routes of those who participate.

The second season features characters such as Michael Blanco, son of Griselda Blanco, one of the leaders of the Medellín Cartel known as "The Queen of Cocaine".

Also featured is model Stephanie Acevedo, daughter of drug trafficker Jose Ramon Acevedo who was imprisoned for bringing cocaine into the United States through Miami.

And another case is that of Dayana Castellanos, jailed for three years for trafficking drugs in Florida.

The filming of Coronel's appearance was done in Miami.

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