'There was no other way and there still isn't': 'El Chapo' Guzman defends his role in the drug trade in exclusive interview
"... From the age of 15 and on, where I'm from ... In that area, and up until today, there are no job opportunities," Guzmán said in a clip of the interview posted with the story.
A video clip of what Penn describes as "the first interview El Chapo had ever granted outside an interrogation room," can be seen below, with a visibly relaxed Guzmán sitting near a pickup truck on a ranch, responding to questions calmly, as roosters crow in the background.
Guzmán, believed to be about 60 years old, was born in the town of La Tuna, in the Badiraguato municipality of northwest Mexico's Sinaloa state.
"Well, it's a reality, that drugs destroy. Unfortunately, as I said, where I grew up there was no other way and there still isn't … a way to survive," Guzmán replied when the interviewer asks him about the affect drug use has on humanity.
This viewpoint likely resonates with many of his countrymen, since, despite their country ascending to the status of second-largest economy in Latin America, many in Mexico subsist on wages so law that they violate standards set out in the constitution, according to one economist.
Guzmán also disputed the suggestion that he and his cartel are to blame for high rates of drug use and addition, arguing that, should he disappear from the scene, "it's not going to decrease in any way."
Guzmán's interview with Penn and Mexican actress Kate del Castillo was reportedly conducted in person in October, with follow-ups by phone and messenger over the following weeks.
Guzmán made it through the end of the year as a free man, but was apprehended on January 8 in the northwest corner of Sinaloa state, after a shootout between Mexican marines and several of his associates.
In the wake of his July escape, some observers doubted that Guzmán would survive his next encounter with Mexican authorities, suggesting that political considerations and Guzmán's own sense of self-preservation (that is, his desire to avoid a US jail) would prevent him from being captured alive.
For Guzmán, the matter was much more simple: "I think that if they find me, they'll arrest me of course."
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