A Narco History

sub-heading:
HOW THE UNITED STATES AND MEXICO JOINTLY CREATED THE "MEXICAN DRUG WAR"

"A splendid introduction to a tragic, complex and fascinating binational drama.”—Sergio Aguayo, professor, El Colegio de Mexico

$17.00

Adding to cart… The item has been added
  • 258 pages
  • Paperback ISBN 9781939293794
  • E-book ISBN 9781939293800
  • Publication June 2015

about the book

The term “Mexican Drug War” misleads. It implies that the ongoing bloodbath, which has now killed well over 100,000 people, is an internal Mexican affair.

But this diverts attention from the U.S. role in creating and sustaining the carnage. It’s not just that Americans buy drugs from, and sell weapons to, Mexico’s murderous cartels. It’s that ever since the U.S. prohibited the use and sale of drugs in the early 1900s, it has pressured Mexico into acting as its border enforcer—with increasingly deadly consequences.

Mexico was not a helpless victim. Powerful forces within the country profited hugely from supplying Americans with what their government forbade them. But the policies that spawned the drug war have proved disastrous for both countries.

Written by two award-winning authors, one American and the other Mexican, A Narco History reviews the interlocking twentieth-century histories that produced this twenty-first century calamity, and proposes how to end it.

About The Author / Editor

Photo © Carmen Boullosa/Mike Wallace Carmen Boullosa has published fifteen novels, most recently Tejas, La virgen y el violín, El complot de los románticos and Las paredes hablan. Her novels in English translation are Texas: The Great Theft; They’re Cows, We’re Pigs; Leaving Tabasco and Cleopatra Dismounts. She has received the Xavier Villaurrutia Prize in Mexico, the Anna Seghers and Liberaturpreis in Germany, and the Café Gijón Prize in Madrid. She is a member of Mexico’s Sistema Nacional de Creadores.

Mike Wallace, Distinguished Professor of History at John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York and the CUNY Graduate Center, and founder of the Gotham Center for New York City History, won the Pulitzer Prize for History for his book Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 (Oxford University Press), co-written with Edwin Burrows. He is a co-founder of the Radical History Review and author of the essay collection Mickey Mouse History (1996).

Read An Excerpt

From A Narco History

Ayotzinapa is a small village, located near the town of Tixtla, in a remote and mountainous region of Guerrero, a state in the south of Mexico. Though best known in the U.S. for its Pacific coast port city of Acapulco, a famed tourist resort since the 1950s and 1960s when stars like John Wayne, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, and Lana Turner flocked there, Guerrero is a poor state, and Ayotzinapa lies in one of its poorest regions.

The village is built around a teacher training school. Its construction dates to 1933, when a colonial-era hacienda was transformed into an institution that aimed to educate the isolated, low-income population of rural Mexico. It was one of a network of “normal schools” imbued with a vision of social justice rooted in the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920). These schools were tasked with educating their students in both literacy and politics: ultimately in creating students who could transform their society. Ayotzinapa’s alumni include two 1950s graduates — Lucio Cabañas and Genaro Vázquez — who became famous leaders of agrarian guerilla insurgencies during the 1960s and 1970s. The school today celebrates this tradition. Its buildings feature murals of Marx and Che and its entryway bears the inscription: “To our fallen comrades, who were not buried, but seeded, to make freedom flourish.”

Much of the radical energy of the 522 students (all male, between eighteen to twenty-four years old, many of Indian descent) goes into preserving the school itself. It has been widely believed that the authorities want to shut it down, along with the other sixteen rural teachers’ schools, despite the fact that roughly a fifth of Guerrero’s 3.4 million citizens do not know how to read or write. Students are given one peso a day (about seven U.S. cents) for their personal expenses, and the funds allotted for meals and housing are skimpy. To survive, the students grow much of their own food, raise chickens, look after dilapidated buildings, and share bare rooms containing more occupants than beds.

Periodically they head into nearby cities and towns to botear—or “pass the can”—to raise money for the school. They also hold demonstrations to push for more funding, and for the creation of more jobs for those who obtain their degree. In 2014, allotments were trending down, and the students were up in arms. “If we don’t demand things, nothing comes,” said one nineteen-year-old student. “We just get leftovers.”

Occasionally they have “borrowed”—forcibly commandeered—commercial buses from national companies. The state doesn’t provide enough vehicles, and it’s a long walk to the schools in remote hill towns where they do their practice teaching, or to the cities where they go to fundraise or demonstrate. More aggressively, they have used the buses to blockade tollbooths along the superhighway that runs from Acapulco north to Mexico City, the nation’s capital; at these temporary barriers they chant protest slogans and demand contributions from infuriated drivers. As these buses (and their drivers) have always been returned, the authorities, to the annoyance of the companies, have basically tolerated the practice

On Friday afternoon, September 26, 2014, at the end of the second week of classes, roughly a hundred students—almost all freshmen—went on an expedition. Details of the trip’s purpose, its progress, and even its horrific outcome are still unclear, which is amazing considering the national, indeed global attention that has been riveted on it. Nearly every aspect of what happened that day is contested—partly due to the usual Rashomon effect of contradictory witness accounts, partly due to incompetence, corruption, and lies. There is no easy-to-follow account of what happened to those students during that day—particularly to forty-three of them—but the following narrative is our best effort, using the latest (and often conflicting) accounts available at the time of writing, to lay out what happened.

in the media

A Narco History

sub-heading:
HOW THE UNITED STATES AND MEXICO JOINTLY CREATED THE "MEXICAN DRUG WAR"

"A splendid introduction to a tragic, complex and fascinating binational drama.”—Sergio Aguayo, professor, El Colegio de Mexico

$17.00

Add to Cart

Adding to cart… The item has been added

about the book

The term “Mexican Drug War” misleads. It implies that the ongoing bloodbath, which has now killed well over 100,000 people, is an internal Mexican affair.

But this diverts attention from the U.S. role in creating and sustaining the carnage. It’s not just that Americans buy drugs from, and sell weapons to, Mexico’s murderous cartels. It’s that ever since the U.S. prohibited the use and sale of drugs in the early 1900s, it has pressured Mexico into acting as its border enforcer—with increasingly deadly consequences.

Mexico was not a helpless victim. Powerful forces within the country profited hugely from supplying Americans with what their government forbade them. But the policies that spawned the drug war have proved disastrous for both countries.

Written by two award-winning authors, one American and the other Mexican, A Narco History reviews the interlocking twentieth-century histories that produced this twenty-first century calamity, and proposes how to end it.

About The Author / Editor

Photo © Carmen Boullosa/Mike Wallace Carmen Boullosa has published fifteen novels, most recently Tejas, La virgen y el violín, El complot de los románticos and Las paredes hablan. Her novels in English translation are Texas: The Great Theft; They’re Cows, We’re Pigs; Leaving Tabasco and Cleopatra Dismounts. She has received the Xavier Villaurrutia Prize in Mexico, the Anna Seghers and Liberaturpreis in Germany, and the Café Gijón Prize in Madrid. She is a member of Mexico’s Sistema Nacional de Creadores.

Mike Wallace, Distinguished Professor of History at John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York and the CUNY Graduate Center, and founder of the Gotham Center for New York City History, won the Pulitzer Prize for History for his book Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 (Oxford University Press), co-written with Edwin Burrows. He is a co-founder of the Radical History Review and author of the essay collection Mickey Mouse History (1996).

Read An Excerpt

From A Narco History

Ayotzinapa is a small village, located near the town of Tixtla, in a remote and mountainous region of Guerrero, a state in the south of Mexico. Though best known in the U.S. for its Pacific coast port city of Acapulco, a famed tourist resort since the 1950s and 1960s when stars like John Wayne, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, and Lana Turner flocked there, Guerrero is a poor state, and Ayotzinapa lies in one of its poorest regions.

The village is built around a teacher training school. Its construction dates to 1933, when a colonial-era hacienda was transformed into an institution that aimed to educate the isolated, low-income population of rural Mexico. It was one of a network of “normal schools” imbued with a vision of social justice rooted in the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920). These schools were tasked with educating their students in both literacy and politics: ultimately in creating students who could transform their society. Ayotzinapa’s alumni include two 1950s graduates — Lucio Cabañas and Genaro Vázquez — who became famous leaders of agrarian guerilla insurgencies during the 1960s and 1970s. The school today celebrates this tradition. Its buildings feature murals of Marx and Che and its entryway bears the inscription: “To our fallen comrades, who were not buried, but seeded, to make freedom flourish.”

Much of the radical energy of the 522 students (all male, between eighteen to twenty-four years old, many of Indian descent) goes into preserving the school itself. It has been widely believed that the authorities want to shut it down, along with the other sixteen rural teachers’ schools, despite the fact that roughly a fifth of Guerrero’s 3.4 million citizens do not know how to read or write. Students are given one peso a day (about seven U.S. cents) for their personal expenses, and the funds allotted for meals and housing are skimpy. To survive, the students grow much of their own food, raise chickens, look after dilapidated buildings, and share bare rooms containing more occupants than beds.

Periodically they head into nearby cities and towns to botear—or “pass the can”—to raise money for the school. They also hold demonstrations to push for more funding, and for the creation of more jobs for those who obtain their degree. In 2014, allotments were trending down, and the students were up in arms. “If we don’t demand things, nothing comes,” said one nineteen-year-old student. “We just get leftovers.”

Occasionally they have “borrowed”—forcibly commandeered—commercial buses from national companies. The state doesn’t provide enough vehicles, and it’s a long walk to the schools in remote hill towns where they do their practice teaching, or to the cities where they go to fundraise or demonstrate. More aggressively, they have used the buses to blockade tollbooths along the superhighway that runs from Acapulco north to Mexico City, the nation’s capital; at these temporary barriers they chant protest slogans and demand contributions from infuriated drivers. As these buses (and their drivers) have always been returned, the authorities, to the annoyance of the companies, have basically tolerated the practice

On Friday afternoon, September 26, 2014, at the end of the second week of classes, roughly a hundred students—almost all freshmen—went on an expedition. Details of the trip’s purpose, its progress, and even its horrific outcome are still unclear, which is amazing considering the national, indeed global attention that has been riveted on it. Nearly every aspect of what happened that day is contested—partly due to the usual Rashomon effect of contradictory witness accounts, partly due to incompetence, corruption, and lies. There is no easy-to-follow account of what happened to those students during that day—particularly to forty-three of them—but the following narrative is our best effort, using the latest (and often conflicting) accounts available at the time of writing, to lay out what happened.

in the media