Mexican Studies Seminar | Spring 2019

A Laboratory for the Drug Wars: The Invention of the “Juárez Cartel” in the Era of National Security

Oswaldo Zavala
College of Staten Island & City University of New York (CUNY)

The 1990s were significant years in the construction of the “narco” imaginary that transformed the sociopolitical landscape in Mexico in the following decades. This presentation examines some of the key institutions, events, cultural products and protagonists on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border that collectively articulated a “national security” narrative. Zavala argues that this narrative was the necessary step to justify the militarization of the country that ultimately left over 250,000 dead and 40,000 forced disappearances. He will focus on the symbolic invention of the “Juárez Cartel” and its centrality as a cultural and political signifier in the epistemological platform for Mexico’s “drug wars.”