Narco Cultura (2013)

I just watched the documentary “Narco Cultura directed by Shaul Schwarza 2013 documentary film about the Mexican Drug War.

The Mexican Drug War which started in 2006 is an ongoing armed conflict among rival drug cartels fighting one another for regional control. At the same time these drug cartels are fighting against the Mexican government forces (the Federal Police and the Mexican army) and civilian vigilante groups. 

Although Mexican drug cartels, or drug trafficking organizations, have existed for several decades, they have become more powerful since the demise of the Colombian Cali and Medellín cartels in the 1990s.

Mexican drug cartels now dominate the wholesale US-American illicit drug market and in 2007 they controlled 90% of the cocaine entering the United States.

Analysts estimate that wholesale earnings from illicit drug sales range from $13.6 billion to $49.4 billion annually.

By the end of president Felipe Calderón‘s administration (2006–12), the official death toll of the Mexican Drug War was at least 60,000. Estimates set the death toll above 120,000 killed by 2013, not including 27,000 missing persons.

This documentary Narco Cultura focuses on the situation in the Mexican border town Ciudad Juárez (on the US-American side we have El PasoWest Texas) and on the phenomenon of the so called “narco-corridos” which is an element of the “narcoculture” in Mexico.

narco-corrido is a sub-genere of the Mexican norteñocorrido (northern ballad) music genre, a traditional folk music from northern Mexico, from which other several genres have evolved. This type of music is heard on both sides of the US–Mexican border.

The narco-corridos use a danceable, accordion-based polka as a rhythmic base. The first corridos that focus on drug smugglers – “narco” comes from “narcóticos” (narcotics) – have been dated back to the 1930s. Early corridos (non-narco) go back as far to the Mexican Revolution of 1910, telling the stories of revolutionary fighters. Music critics have also compared narcocorrido music to gangster rap.

“Narco-corrido” lyrics refer to particular events and include real dates and places. The lyrics tend to speak approvingly of illegal activities such as murdertortureracketeeringextortiondrug smugglingillegal immigration, and sometimes political protest due to government corruption.

Well, the effectiveness of this movie is mainly a result of the harsh contrast between the silly glorification of those cartell people (their bosses, dealers and killers) made in the songs and on the concerts of those narco-corrido-musicians with the disgusting images of the dirty and cruel war that is going on in Mexican border towns like Ciudad Juárez.

Ciudad Juárez has around 1,5 Million inhabitants and in the worst years the death toll of this drug war in Ciudad Juárez was up to more than 3000 murders a year.

See for example the article of December 15, 2010 titled “Ciudad Juarez Drug War Death Toll Hits 3,000” in “CBS News“.

In this documentary Narco Cultura you see dreadful images showing the bodies of shot persons (including policemen) lying in the morgue of Ciudad Juárez, also images of persons that have been decapitated or incinerated with gasoline, etc.

What is going on in Ciudad Juárez is monstruous and repulsive and it´s sad enough that such activities are glorified in the songs of those musicians that go on stage with AK-47s and bazookas.

Those weird mariachis as much as their fans obviously see in those drug lords ruling the Mexican cartels some modern Robin Hoods.  

But those cartels are in fact destroying the societies and economies of cities like Ciudad Juárez. The result of this violence is not only lawlessness and general fear. As one further result many businesses and companies that no only suffer under the effects of this massive violence, but also under the constant extortion by the cartels tend to leave cities like Ciudad Juárez.

And the Mexican cartels with their armed gangs are so powerful in Ciudad Juárez that they are leading an open war with the police forces, attacking them and also threatening the police officers with killing them in case they are not willing to resign from their jobs.

See for this documentary also the article titled “‘Narco Cultura’ Documentary Delves Into Drug Culture In Mexico (VIDEO)” (10/17/2013in the “Huffington Post“.

See also the article titled “Shaul Schwarz: Music, Guns and Drugs in the film ‘Narco Cultura’” (20/12/2013) in the website of “National Geographic“.

See also the article titled “Sundance Review: ‘Narco Cultura’ Is A Disturbing Look At The Mexican War On Drugs & The Idolatry Within” (1/21/2013) in the blog “The Playlist” (Indiewire).

This excellent documentary offers a disturbing look into the deadly anarchy and massive violence that is going on in Mexican borders towns like Ciudad Juárez: A violence that is conditioned also by the fact that those cartels can not only sell their drugs but also buy the weapons they need for this war in the United States with their very generous gun laws.

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