Sean Penn reveals ‘El Chapo’ interview details, plus ‘a terrible regret’
Actor Sean Penn, who famously met up with notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman for a Rolling Stone interview, is finally breaking his silence.
Instead of being the interviewer, Penn was interviewed by 60 Minutes‘ Charlie Rose about the seven-hour clandestine meeting. The Penn interview will be featured in this Sunday’s episode.
El Chapo was re-apprehended last week, after the Penn interview led officials to his hideout in Los Mochis, Mexico.
“There is this myth about the visit that we made, my colleagues and I with El Chapo, that it was — as the Attorney General of Mexico is quoted — ‘essential’ to his capture,” Penn said. “We had met with him many weeks earlier … on October 2, in a place nowhere near where he was captured.”
“So as far as, you know, you had nothing to do and your visit had nothing to do with his recapture?” Rose asked.
“Here’s the things that we know: We know that the Mexican government … they were clearly very humiliated by the notion that someone found him before they did,” Penn said. “Well, nobody found him before they did. We didn’t — we’re not smarter than the DEA or Mexican intelligence. We had a contact upon which we were able to facilitate an invitation.”
WATCH: Video captures moments during “El Chapo” siege
Penn believes that he was brought into the equation and credited with “finding” El Chapo in order to deflect attention off of Mexican authorities’ inability to locate him themselves. As a result, Penn doesn’t feel like he’s in any danger from the drug cartel. Asked bluntly if he’s fearful for his life, his answer is a simple “no.”
Penn claims that he wanted to talk to El Chapo strictly about the war on drugs.
“This is somebody who — upon whose interview could I begin a conversation about the policy of the war on drugs. That was my simple idea,” Penn said. “‘We’re going to put all our focus — forget about blame — we’re going to put all our focus, all our energy, all our billions of dollars on the ‘bad guy,’ and what happens? You get another death the next day the same way,” Penn added.
The actor’s only regret is his Rolling Stone article doesn’t focus on what he set out to discover: El Chapo’s opinion and thoughts about the war on drugs.
“I have a regret that the entire discussion about this article ignores its purpose, which was to try to contribute to this discussion about the policy in the War on Drugs,” Penn said. “Let’s go to the big picture of what we all want. We all want this drug problem to stop. We all want them — the killings in Chicago to stop,” Penn added. “We are the consumer. Whether you agree with Sean Penn or not, there is a complicity there. And if you are in the moral right, or on the far left, just as many of your children are doing these drugs … And how much time have they spent in the last week since this article come [sic] out, talking about that? One per cent? I think that’d be generous.”
“You’re saying there’s not much dialogue about —”
“My article failed,” Penn said.
The last part of Penn’s interview with Rose (that the public is privy to) deals with the fact that Penn is an actor, not a journalist. He’s received many social-media jabs and thinkpieces attacking his writing ability, and even Rolling Stone has come under fire.
“When you get the story that every journalist in the world wanted, there’s a lot of green-eyed monsters who gonna come give you a kiss,” Penn said.
“Those are jealous journalists you’re suggesting,” Rose said.
“That, yes. …Of course I know that there are people who don’t like me out of the gate,” Penn said.
“You’re not without controversy,” Rose said.
“Not without controversy. Fair enough,” Penn said. “At the same time, you know, when…’journalists’ who want to say that I’m not a journalist — well, I want to see the license that says that they’re a journalist.”
The ’60 Minutes’ interview will air on Sunday.
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