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I’ve been reading Alma Guillermoprieto’s stories about Latin America ever since college when I came across an article she wrote for The New Yorker about Mexico’s trash dump communities. Her literary tapestries combine historical context with human stories to explain the region’s current events.
In the Nov. 10 issue of The New Yorker, Guillermoprieto writes about Mexico’s narcocultura. The story focuses mostly on the state of Sinaloa, which is said to have been the birthplace of Mexico’s drug trade. It starts with a description of the controversial “Navajas” art exhibit that was intended to get people to confront the excesses of drug violence by jolting them from their crime-dazed stupor. (Read more about “Navajas” in this previous blog posting). It ends with a visit to Mexico City and an explanation of the Santa Muerte robed skeleton figure that has been adopted by drug traffickers. In between, she writes about recent developments in the drug trade that have led to an upswing in violence.
The challenge with writing about any huge subject matter like the drug trade is that there is too much to write about. So you either omit a lot or you dole the information out in chapter-like portions like Guillermoprieto has been able to do over her extensive career. Guillermoprieto is well-versed in another aspect of narco culture that escaped mention in this recent story: Odes to drug traffickers, or narco corridos. In recent years, attacks on members of narco corrido groups have raised questions of whether art is imitating life or vice versa. Meanwhile, I would love to read a story from Guillermoprieto – or any other journalist up for the challenge – that blends the topics of food and drug trafficking by tracing the popularity and proliferation of Sinaloan seafood restaurants. Drug-related shootings and arrests have been associated with several of these food places in Tijuana.
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