Reasons of State—and Economy

On September 26, 2014, in the Mexican town of Iguala, in the state of Guerrero, uniformed police and black-masked gunmen shot and killed six people, wounded more than 20, and detained 43 students from the Normal School in nearby Ayotzinapa. (The Normal Schools train people, generally young members of poor peasant families, to be teachers in the rural schools.) The students were apparently handed over to a local drug gang, the Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors), in cahoots with the mayor of Iguala (his wife’s brother seems be a G.U. leader). Since then they have not been seen again, and are presumed dead, though their parents are demanding that they be returned to them alive. The search for the students has so far led to the uncovering of a multitude of bodies—not surprising given that, according to human rights groups, an estimated 70,000 Mexicans have been killed and another 27,000 “disappeared” since 2006, when the then-president of Mexico Felipe Calderón embarked on a militarized struggle against the drug industry at the urging of the United States

The three articles included here originated in a public forum on the theme “Narco-State and Narco-Economy,” organized by the Economics Department and the Centro de Análysis de Coyuntura Económica, Politica y Social at the Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM). They have been lightly edited; translations are by Loreli Mojica.