Cartel chief son: Netflix hurt reputation


William Rodríguez Abadía, the son of Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela, former head of Colombia’s powerful Cali drug cartel, says he was never a hitman and worked for his father as a lawyer while fighting a legal battle against the U.S. government.

Rodríguez Abadía decided to reappear and present himself to the public to declare the fact that his portrayal in the famous show “Narcos,” which has an audience of more than 3.2 million people around the world. Rodríguez Abadía, 53, and living in Miami, said that it’s “more important to clarify all the misunderstandings” and the more than 10 lies he said were broadcast during the third season of Narcos.

The Colombian who is hoping to obtain a special U.S. immigrant visa, claims he has been portrayed as a hitman and an assassin. Moreover, he emphasizes that a series like “Narcos” and others glorify drug trafficking. Rodríguez Abadía also said that he is not running away and that he has always admitted the mistakes he made in surrendering, accepting and serving his sentence.

This is not the first time that relatives of former drug traffickers complain to Netflix about the three-season show. Roberto Escobar, brother of Pablo Escobar, is seeking $1 billion from Netflix for the use of the late Medellín cartel chief’s image. Netflix has claimed that he was a public figure and that it obtained the information about him from court documents.

According to law, if the plantiffs are public figures, they have different defamation rights than a private person. There are specific restrictions applied to defamation claims with regard to someone who holds public office or chooses to be in the public eye.

Courts have upheld this rule based on the U.S. belief that the public should be able to freely discuss national issues without fear of any repercussions. If a public official or public figure believes that he or she has been defamed, he or she must prove with convincing evidence that the statement is false.

On one hand, I think that Rodríguez Abadía could have been portrayed in a different way, however, it is part of the public opinion. How many films have portrayed people not exactly as they are in life? Probably a huge number that we wouldn’t even imagine. I also consider that he has a motive to change the image people have of him in the United States, especially the most important newspaper where he lives.

Lastly, I also want to take into consideration the other side of the story that could include a lot of people who are famous because of an event or some other reason of which the public does not know. Many of them could have this false portrayal released out to a big number of viewers and are not able to sue powerful company as Netflix for damages.