Tag Archives: Mexico City

The New Yorker takes a look at Mexico’s drug culture

Close-up of a Santa Muerte south of Nuevo Lare...      

Image via Wikipedia

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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Border journalism in the new media age

The San Diego Union-Tribune, which is reportedly being considered for sale, is going through another round of voluntary staff reductions. Exempt from this option is Sandra Dibble, a veteran journalist who arguably knows the Baja California border better than any other U.S. reporter.

Sandra is all that’s left of the paper’s long-standing Mexico staff (reporter Leslie Berestein covers immigration out of San Diego, and Omar Millan writes primarily for the paper’s Spanish-language Enlace). Sandra and I used to work together at the paper’s Tijuana office. In December, I took a voluntary buyout and so did border business reporter Diane Lindquist. The company’s long-time Mexico City correspondent, S. Lynne Walker, also opted out.

Since then, I’ve started this blog and graduate school. Diane created a border business web site. And S. Lynne Walker is vice president of the UCSD-based Institute of the Americas. The media landscape is changing drastically as the Internet creates new ways of sharing information and disrupts traditional advertising models. The paper’s decision to protect the lone-standing border reporter is both a hopeful and sad testimony to journalism’s struggle to survive.

I recently wrote a paper on the past and future of border journalism, “Border Journalism in the New Media Age,” that was published by the University of San Diego-based  Trans-Border Institute. For an interesting graphic on journalism layoffs and buyouts go here.

Map image from Wikimedia Commons classified as being in the public domain.