Carnegie Mellon University
March 20, 2012

News Brief: Series of Events Focus on the "Drug War" in Mexico: Who is Who?


Contact: Shilo Rea / 412.268.6094 /

In the U.S., we tend to see the violence in Mexico from a distance as the product of a war between drug trafficking groups and the Mexican government. Unfortunately, reality is not so clear-cut or black and white. Many former military and police officers have joined the drug gangs, and drug traffickers have infiltrated every level of the Mexican government and military, leaving Mexicans wondering whom they can trust.

A series of Carnegie Mellon University events explores issues surrounding the "Drug War" from a variety of perspectives.  According to Paul Eiss, associate professor of anthropology and history and director of CMU's Center for the Arts in Society (CAS), "These events leave us with one question, above all — once that many now face both within Mexico and beyond its borders: Who is Who?"

Signs of Violence: Messaging, Media and Politics in Mexico's "Drug War"
Wednesday, March 21
4:30 p.m.
CMU's Adamson Wing, Baker Hall 136A

Eiss will explore links between violence, political representation and new media - digital technology, the Internet and social media - in contemporary Mexico.  He will also talk about how a variety of new media forms THAT have arisen in connection with drugs and drug-war related violence, something he refers to as THE "narcomedia."  This lecture is sponsored by CAS.

"El Sicario, Room 164"

Thursday, March 22
7:15 p.m.
Melwood Screening Room

The 2012 CMU International Film Festival "Faces of Others" will opens with a documentary film cosponsored by CAS on the "terrifyingly casual roots of evil" through the eyes of an unnamed, former "sicario" - a hit man and enforcer for a Mexican drug cartel.  A reception will follow.

"El Sicario, Room 164"
Saturday, March 31
7:30 p.m.
CMU's McConomy Auditorium

For this campus screening of "El Sicario," Eiss will be on hand to introduce the film, provide background context and answer questions following the screening.

Cipriana Jurado Herrera: "Human Rights in the Wake of Mexico's 'Drug War'"
Monday, April 9
Porter Hall 100,
4:30-5:50 PM

Cipriana Jurado Herrera was the first person to receive political asylum in the U.S. as a human rights organizer in the context of Mexico's drug war. Jurado Herrera was an activist for women, labor and human rights in Ciudad Juárez. In early 2011, after her fellow activists and their combined family members were killed, kidnapped or otherwise targeted, she fled to El Paso.  Jurado Herrera will speak about the situation in Ciudad Juárez and Mexico, and about her persecution by security forces. This event is sponsored by CMU's CAS and cosponsored by the Global Studies Program.

CMU's Center for the Arts in Society is a research center within the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences and College of Fine Arts that investigates the role of arts in societies. For more information, visit