Is Netflix's 'Somos.' a true story? Horrifying Allende massacre still haunts Mexico
Filmmaker James Schamus based his fictionalized retelling of the tragedy on an investigative article by journalist Ginger Thompson
'Somos.', which began streaming on Netflix on June 30, may involve a fictionalized perspective of the victims of the shocking massacre that took place in the town of Allende, but the horror itself is all too real. 'Somos.' which is award-winning producer James Schamus' first foray onto the small screen, is inspired by the explosive investigative article by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ginger Thompson that incorporates stories and testimonies of dozens of people, who experienced the horrors of the Los Zetas drug cartel, which torched and killed hundreds of innocent people in the small Mexican town Allende when a DEA operation went wrong.
According to Ginger Thompson's Pro Publica report, "In March 2011 gunmen from the Zetas cartel, one of the most violent drug trafficking organizations in the world, swept through Allende and nearby towns like a flash flood, demolishing homes and businesses and kidnapping and killing dozens, possibly hundreds, of men, women and children. The destruction and disappearances went on in fits and starts for weeks. Only a few of the victims’ relatives — mostly those who didn’t live in Allende or had fled — dared to seek help." If shows on the dark underbelly of drugs are of interest to you then content such as 'The Serpent', 'I'm No Longer Here' and 'The Last Narc' should be of interest to you.
Thomson goes onto explain that while the horrific massacre took place in Mexico, its origins were not from Mexico itself. It all started in the US, when the Drug Enforcement Administration received an unexpected coup and received information on two of the kingpins of the Los Zetas Cartel, Miguel Ángel Treviño and his brother Omar, from a high-level Zetas operative. The DEA then went onto share the information with a Mexican federal police unit, even though this police unit had been known for leaks in the past. The Trevinos almost immediately came to know that they had been betrayed and in their thirst for revenge at anyone who could possibly be connected to their betrayers, led the gruesome massacre in Allende. Their savagery was perhaps even more shocking because not just was this the Trevinos place of business, where they moved tens of millions of dollars in drugs and guns through the area each month, but it was also the place they called their home. While American authortities eventually helped Mexico capture the Trevinos, most of the victims suffered mostly in silence. However, it is now that at least in a fictionalized way that their stories are being brought to life.
James Schamus was surprised that this tragedy was not as well known as it should be. Schamus decided to change that saying, “I immediately took it as a challenge to reframe real people’s lived experiences in a distinct work-a fictional narrative that would break away from the usual genres that so compellingly mediate our understanding of how violence structures so much of our 'day-to-day' living, regardless of how close or distant that violence is from us."
Schamus continues saying, "The idea was not to focus solely on how drug trafficking affects the lives of ordinary people in Mexico but to construct a multiple narrative that would serve as a real discourse on various forms of violence (institutional, physical, sexual, gender-based, domestic, etc.) that characterize modern life." To find out if Schamus has succeeded in his objective for 'Somos.' you can catch the true-life story on Netflix which began streaming on June 30.