?ve, and barely schooled, Maria’s foray into the world of drug smuggling – an unfortunate fixture in contemporary Colombia – ironically opens a doorway for her to a brighter future. The travails she is subjected to mirror the lives of countless brave Latin American women in search of economic and social liberation. The motion picture, in effect, suspends judgment on what mainstream society considers criminal acts (cocaine smuggling, illegal entry and passport/visa falsification), and explores the cultural context and humanity of the heroine’s actions.
1. Close family ties – In Hispanic societies, it is common for grown children to live with their parents, each seeking emotional support from the other; this was seen in the assistance Maria, her mother, and other family members gave her sister and the baby.
2. Extended family as economic unit – It is also not unusual for extended families (aunts, uncles, grandparents) to provide financial support for each other and the next generation, in the same manner as Maria’s provision of income for her parents, sister and infant nephew.
3. Importance of religious practices (De La Torre, 2009) and institutional Catholicism (Stevens-Arroyo & Diaz-Stevens, 1994). A unifying attribute among all Spanish-speaking countries is staunch Catholicism. The message in this film is one of hope in the midst of desperation, a persistent attribute in the deeply religious Hispanic culture.
4. Element of shame – More than fault or blame, it is saving face and the element of shame that is embodied in Hispanic families’ decisions. For instance, Lucy was ashamed to face her sister in New York; also, Juan’s offer to marry Maria even if they do not love each other was prompted by the fact that he got her pregnant.
5. Forgiveness – A natural consequence of Catholic spirituality and close family ties is the ease by which family members forgive each others’ transgressions. Carla’s total absence of anger or blame against