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Drug War Mexico: Politics, Neoliberalism and Violence in the New Narcoeconomy

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ISBN-13: 978-1848138865
ISBN-10: 1848138865
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Editorial Reviews

Review

'This is a superb, carefully documented analysis of how American drug and neoliberal policies have helped open up Mexico to crony capitalism, crony drug trafficking, increasing wealth disparity, impoverishment of the lower 50 percent, police and army corruption and domination, and now a murderous, fruitless, US-driven drug war. Concerned Americans should read this book, and get others to read it, as a step towards decriminalizing marijuana - the chief commodity of the Mexican cartels - to help end the nightmare.' Peter Dale Scott, author of 'American War Machine' 'Peter Watt and Roberto Zepeda shed light on this dark moment in Mexican history, a drug war that has become one of the most brutal and mistunderstood conflicts of the twenty first century.' Ioan Grillo, Author of 'El Narco: The Bloody Rise of Mexican Drug Cartels' 'By carefully linking together the economic, political and criminal histories of Mexico over the past decades, Watt and Zepeda roll back the curtain on the 'war on drugs'. Their book offers a comprehensive analysis, examining overlapping facts that others have assumed unrelated and documenting step by step the hypocrisy and corruption rampant in this war of contradictions. With its cast of shady characters and stranger-than-fiction events, the book leads logically to the conclusion that there is much more than meets the eye to the US and Mexican governments' efforts to 'defeat organized crime'. The information presented here will be an important tool in understanding the real interests behind the drug war-it will be up to a new generation to use that tool to end this deadly and unjust war before the death toll climbs even higher.' Laura Carlsen, Director, Americas Program

About the Author

Dr. Peter Watt is Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at the University of Sheffield. 

Roberto Zepeda holds a PhD in Politics from the University of Sheffield and is currently working as a lecturer and academic researcher in Mexico.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Zed Books (June 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848138865
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848138865
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #386,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By dawn on September 17, 2012
Format: Paperback
[...]

If you look for it, you might find find a buried headline about how a Caravan organized by Mexicans impacted by drug violence is making its way from the U.S. Mexico border to Washington DC, calling for justice and peace in Mexico. Hundreds of people are gathering at each of the stops along the way to remember the dead and disappeared, and to denounce the ongoing atrocities being committed in the name of the War on Drugs.

It goes without saying that coverage of the Caravan pales in comparison to reports of new atrocities in Mexico, which, stripped of any context, make headlines around the world. Even so, coverage of the violence can hide more than it reveals. By way of example, there is no reliable number of the total number of dead in the war. Most media figures tend closer to the lower estimate of 60,000, while some peg it at over 200,000.

For people looking for a more careful analysis on what is taking place in Mexico, Peter Watt and Roberto Zepeda's new book, Drug War Mexico, is a good place to start. The authors begin by acknowledging the problematic role the mainstream media play in the conflict in Mexico.
"Reports from media organizations like Televisa in Mexico, CNN in the US, and the BBC in the UK tend to present the 'drug war' in Mexico as a mysterious and inexplicable conflict in which the government (with the help of its ally, the United States) and the army attempt to defeat the evil tactics and poisonous influence of organized crime," write Watt and Zepeda in the introduction. "Within this narrow and misleading representation of the drug war, state actors who perpetrate violence and abuse human rights are rarely ascribed agency, and thus are afforded complete immunity by influential mainstream media organizations.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By E. Granter on July 30, 2013
Format: Paperback
A highly perceptive and searching critique of the links between neoliberal policy and the criminalisation of Mexican society.

What is the relevance of neoliberalism? The authors detail how neoliberal policies benefited the elite whilst further impoverishing the larger population. Given that this elite is apparently an amalgam of criminal, political, paramilitary and business interests anyway, little real effort was expended in cracking down on drug crime, even as the poor and unemployed increasingly began to see it as a rational career path.

Most notable in this book is the assertion that the narco-economy has operated with thinly veiled political protection for decades, and that much of the violence on Mexico's streets is not caused by police trying to arrest drug dealers, but by the police being tasked with protecting favoured cartels and eliminating their rivals.

In terms of 'aid' from the US: Military and police training and equipment from the 'States is more likely to be used for cracking down on trades union activists and protesters, rather than the cartels.

Dramatic stuff, and meticulously detailed. I could do without the usual discussion of decriminalising drugs: It's a defeatist position and would not solve the problem of organized crime anyway, but overall this is a well researched book which deserves to be read widely.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Elias Rodriguez on September 1, 2012
Format: Paperback
I was given the opportunity to review this book and was pleased by the way it explains the Drug War in Mexico.

More than a book telling what's happening in Mexico, it's a book of why.

Watt and Zepeda not not only analyze the situation from the criminal perspective, it's also seen with historical, economic, and political points of view.

What was going on twenty, fifty, and one hundred years ago and how it evolved to the present situation?

How the economic situation fuels violence, where money laundering takes place, and how multinational projects promote trafficking?

How political change, corrupt politicians, and corrupt security officials have been related to traffickers for decades?

The first step to fix a problem is to know what the problem is, and this book is the best start.

Elias Rodriguez
Neglectedwar.com
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael Jacobs on March 5, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am a graduate student studying globalization. I found this book to be an incredible resource in writing my most recent paper. It covers a lot of material, and brings it together in a way that is easy to comprehend.
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9 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Sylvia Longmire on August 11, 2012
Format: Paperback
A couple of months ago, the publicity folks at ZedBooks emailed me and asked if I'd be interested in reading and writing a review for Drug War Mexico prior to its publication. Well, never one to turn down a free book, and especially one on my subject of choice, I agreed.

Before I started reading Drug War Mexico, I thought it would be like a lot of other books that have come out in this genre of "narcobooks." Parts of it are, but make no mistake - this is designed to be a textbook for a college class (as its hardcover $116.95 sticker price makes clear). That doesn't mean there aren't several stretches from which the casual reader could benefit, but before dropping even the $24.95 for the paperback version (it doesn't come in eBook), you should know what you're getting yourself into.

The authors are both professors at the University of Sheffield, and certainly know what they're talking about. However, it's very clear that the two have VERY different writing styles, and of course specialize in different things. I had no trouble at all picking out which parts of the book were written by which author: Watt, the historian, has a more casual, readable style that explains sometimes convoluted histories and incidents in a manner that's clear and minimally confusing. Zepeda, the political economist....well, let's just say that wading through several sections of discussions on Mexico's political economy, neoliberalism, NAFTA, etc. made me want to poke my eyeballs with a fork. Needless to say, I skipped a few of these parts to get back to the drug war "meat," which was more Watt's territory.

Despite the book's stuttering nature between fascinating narcohistory and economic drudgery, there's a good bit to be learned.
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