When Sean Penn interviewed drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzman in secret, the actor sparked controversy about having access to Mexico's most wanted man. Sean has since said that he has a "terrible regret" about their meeting – but it wasn't that it happened in the first instance.
No, it was that much of the coverage about the clandestine meeting focused on El Chapo's confessions, the legal repercussions Sean could face, and most of all, how the Hollywood star managed to secure an interview with the kingpin.
By publishing his story in The Rolling Stones, Sean was hoping to contribute to the conversation on "the war on drugs" – something that he says has been overlooked.
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Sean Penn said he hoped his article would contribute to "the discussion about the war on drugs"
"My article failed," Sean told CBS's 60 Minutes. "Let me be clear. My article has failed."
The message he was hoping to convey was that the government's pursuit of individual drug lords and traffickers doesn't make a difference in the bigger picture.
As El Chapo said himself, he doesn't feel responsible for the high levels of drug addiction because "the day I don't exist, it's not going to decrease in any way at all. If there was no consumption, there would be no sales."
The actor clarified that he wasn't involved in El Chapo's capture
Focusing on the "bad guy" isn't the solution, said Sean. "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.
"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.
"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. 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 came out, talking about that? One per cent? I think that'd be generous."
Sean and El Chapo's meeting was held in secret in October
Sean also clarified that in no way did he contribute to El Chapo's capture. The Mexican drug lord escaped from a maximum-security prison in Mexico last July, and was captured for the third time earlier this month.
The actor said: "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. We had met with him many weeks earlier... on October 2nd, in a place nowhere near where he was captured.
"The Mexican government was clearly very humiliated by the notion that someone found him before they did. Well, nobody found him before they did. We didn't – we're not smarter than the DEA or the Mexican intelligence. We had a contact upon which we were able to facilitate an invitation."