Work-in-Progress: Intersections Between the Dirty War and the War on Drugs in Northwestern Mexico (1965-1985)


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Adela Cedillos project analyzes the interconnection between the dirty war (1964-1985) and the first war on drugs (1977-1987) in Mexico, and offers an innovative perspective on the development of these secret wars in the Golden Quadrilateral, a region made up of the northwestern states of Sinaloa, Sonora, Chihuahua, and Durango, which became simultaneously an epicenter of guerrilla movements and the economic hub of the drug industry. The Mexican government applied the counterinsurgent concept of internal enemy not only to political opponents but also to drug growers and traffickers.  This project examines two case studies: the counterinsurgency campaigns against the 23rd of September Communist League and Operation Condor, the first anti-drug campaign led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Mexico. This study argues that the secret wars led to the formation of a structure of power parallel to the rule of law that encompassed the security apparatus, criminal syndicates, and illegal commodities for the global market, what scholars have termed as deep state. In addition, Cedillo poses that these secret wars were inextricably connected because the counterinsurgency agents who took part in the extermination of guerrilla movements and the anti-drug operations were permitted to profit from the drug trade in return for maintaining the hegemony of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Lastly, her work looks at how the combination of counterinsurgency and criminal sovereignty led to the imposition of a de facto state of siege and systematic human rights abuses.


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