The Origins of Narcotrafficking: Mexico and Colombia in Comparative Perspective


Friday, November 17, 2017, 12:00pm to 2:00pm


CGIS South, S030, 1730 Cambridge Street

Speakers: Lina Britto, Assistant Professor, Department of History, Northwestern University; Froylan Enciso, CIDE; Senior Analyst, Crisis Group Mexico

For the last half a century Mexico and Colombia have been ground zeros of the problematic drug trade that connects North and South America in a murderous circuit of profits and politics. This talk addresses the local regional national and transnational origins of the illegal business in both countries in a comparative manner that highlights similarities differences and connections in a historical perspective. Historians Froylán Enciso and Lina Britto analyze how efforts at agrarian reform and modernization inter-state relations with the United States and social values of the popular culture contributed to prepare the soil for the flourishing of the drug industry in Sinaloa and the Guajira the two regions where the drug trade originated in Mexico and Colombia respectively. By comparing the two cases in a counterpoint the talk reveals a broader picture about how this hemispheric industry thrives in the porous boundaries between legality and social legitimacy.

Lina Britto is an historian of modern Latin America and the Caribbean working on the emergence and consolidation of illegal drug smuggling networks in Colombia in the context of a growing articulation between the country and the United States during the Cold War. She teaches at the Department of History Northwestern University.

Froylán Enciso is a historian of the political economy of drugs in Mexico. He is a professor in the Drug Policy Program of the Centre of Research and Teaching in Economics CIDE and Senior Analyst for Mexico of the International Crisis Group.

Discussant: Ana Villarreal, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Boston University

Moderators: Ieva Jusionyte, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Social Studies, Harvard University; Kirsten Weld, Associate Professor of the Social Sciences, Department of History, Harvard University

Presented in collaboration with the Boston University Latin American Studies Program