Photojournalist and film director Shaul Schwarz’s new documentary Narco Cultura contrasts Mexico’s drug violence with the music and fandom of narcocorridos–a style of music that celebrates the anti-heros of the Mexican cartels. Host Maria Hinojosa speaks with director Shaul Schwarz and former narcocorrido marketing director Joel Vazquez about the film, the musical movement of narcocorridos, and the state of Mexican-American self-identity. She also speaks with economist Rodrigo Canales about cartels as a business.

A1 Shaul SchwarzShaul Schwarz is an Israeli photojournalist and film director. His work has appeared in National Geographic, Newsweek, Time, The New York Times Magazine, El Pais Magazine, GQ and Marie Claire. His coverage of the conflict in Haiti in 2004 received two World Press Awards. Most recently he was honored with the 2008 Robert Capa Award given out by the Overseas Press Club.




A1 Joel Vazquez 2Joel Vazquez: Joel Vazquez works in advertising and marketing for narcocorrido bands. He is the former marketing director for Twiins Enterprises, one of the largest narcocorrido labels in the U.S.





A2 Rodrigo CanalesRodrigo Canales is an Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at Yale School of Management. He researches the role of institutions in entrepreneurship and economic development. Specifically, Rodrigo studies how individuals purposefully change complex organizations or systems.


3 thoughts on “Narco Cultura

  1. It seems to me there was a misunderstanding over the use of the word “accept” when Maria was talking with Professor Canales. I think Maria used the word accept to mean “tolerate” whereas Canales used the word to mean “acknowledge”.

    Maria: “But then professor what you’re asking us to do is to accept this notion that que cita la narco cultura (I’m not sure I have the Spanish right), that narco culture is a part, an integral part of Mexico today and that we have to what, accept that and work within that? What do you say to people who say to people who are like, I”m not prepared to accept that?”

    Rodrigo Canales: “Well, I’m not asking you to believe in the tooth fairy. Right? I’m not asking you to believe in something that I can’t show you is there. I’m just asking you to go to the communities and notice that narco cultura is there. I’m not inventing something. And it’s a culture that we have created through our stubborn pursuit of the same policies that have been failing for decades. We have created this phenomenon and so we are responsible for changing it. And so you say to me, “Well, you’re asking me to accept that there’s a narco cultura”. Absolutely I’m asking you to accept it because it’s there, and you have realize that you’re helping create it, and that it’s destroying communities on both sides of the border.”

    I wish Professor Canales had elaborated on the failed policies he says has have contributed to the creation of narco cultura.

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