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The Mexican Drug War

March 2012

What is it like to grow up in a country where the only safe place you can gather with friends is in your own home? How do you raise a family when going to the supermarket is fraught with the danger of being kidnapped?  This is the situation in Mexico, where the drug wars have transformed the country into a living hell. Guest editor Carmen Boullosa has assembled compelling essays, interviews, fiction, and poetry from Mexican writers on the impact of this bloody conflict. In their eyewitness reports, Luis Felipe Fabre, Rafael Perez Gay, Yuri Herrera, Rafael Lemus, Fabrizio Mejia Madrid, Hector de Mauleon, Magali Tercero, Jorge Volpi, and Juan Villoro document the crisis and demand the world’s attention. 

A Report from Hell
By Carmen Boullosa
The newspapers report daily on collective graves, on bullets raining down in bars, drug rehab centers, city streets, at school gates, and in churches.
Translated from Spanish
Violence and Drug-Trafficking in Mexico
By Juan Villoro
In Mexico, people will pay up to $70,000 dollars for a license to hunt and kill a bighorn sheep. Killing a man is much cheaper.
Translated from Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa
The Way to Juarez
By Rafael Pérez Gay
Every street corner in Juarez harbors the story of a murder
Translated from Spanish by Catherine Mansfield
The Mystery of the Parakeet, the Rooster, and the Nanny Goat
By Fabrizio Mejía Madrid
The parakeet is cocaine, the rooster is the marijuana and the nanny goat is an AK-47 assault rifle.
Translated from Spanish by Rosalind Harvey
Death Count
By Jorge Volpi
This is the shield we use to protect ourselves: with so many people involved, I’m not going to be the first to act.
Translated from Spanish by Daniel Hahn
Notes on a Zombie Cataclysm
By Luis Felipe Fabre
The authorities insist they are taking / appropriate steps / to control the plague of zombies
Translated from Spanish by Amanda Hopkinson
Tijuana: On the Pozole-Man’s Hill
By Hector de Mauleon
He was like a butcher who says, “I don’t kill the cattle, I simply cut them up.”
Translated from Spanish by Nick Caistor
The History of the Present: Sergio González Rodríguez on the Mexican Literary World and the Drug War
By Carmen Boullosa
The Mexican literary world is in crisis as it tries to face the history of the present.
Translated from Spanish by Ollie Brock
Notes on the Violence in Sinaloa, Mexico
By Magali Tercero
“Here, the killers protect us: they’re good people, they’re my friends.”
Translated from Spanish by Christina MacSweeney
The Politics of Mourning
By Rafael Lemus
This is the image that for some time has been occupying and saturating public debate in Mexico: an undefined, unspeakable heap of corpses.
Translated from Spanish by Daniel Hahn
The Heart’s Secret Moves
By Yuri Herrera
That was when Pedro went in, clamped his hand over the cop’s mouth, and got him in a neck lock.
Translated from Spanish by Thomas Bunstead
Sleepless Homeland
By Carmen Boullosa
In which junkie’s syringe did you become trapped, my Homeland?
Translated from Spanish by Samantha Schnee