Monday, June 17, 2013

Mexican Gangster Scares Restaurant Patrons

Cascade [University of Oregon College of Arts and Sciences]
Spring 2013

‘Narco narratives’ may take the edge off fear -- while expressing hostility toward the privileged

By Lisa Raleigh

One of the stories goes like this: The setting is an upscale restaurant. Patrons are enjoying their dinner when a thuggish group of men bursts in. Brandishing automatic weapons, they demand everyone’s cell phones, purses and wallets. Things do not look good.

But it’s not the potential massacre it seems. Take it easy, the men say. El Chapo merely wishes to have a meal here -- just like an ordinary person. Just like you. Go about your business; we will return your personal items when the boss has finished his supper. By the way, the boss has also paid for all of your meals.

There’s an uncertain sigh of relief. Maybe el Chapo, the notorious head of the Sinoloa cartel, is not the ruthless butcher he is reputed to be.

Assistant professor Claudia Holguín Mendoza heard this story time and again when she was conducting ethnographic research in her hometown of Juárez, the Mexican border city infamous for narco violence in the streets.

Her interview subjects would share this story in hushed tones, apparently fearing they might be overheard by narco spies. They claimed to have heard this story from someone who was actually in the restaurant that night. Or from someone who heard it from someone who was there. And so on. [...]

[See Claudia Holguín Mendoza, "Dining with the Devil: Identity Formations in Juarez, Mexico." Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, 18:415-436, 2011.]