No Wall They Can Build, Episode 3


The South, Part I – Mexico

Listen to the Episode — 28 min


Welcome to Episode 3 of No Wall They Can Build, the Ex-Worker Podcast’s serialized audiobook exploring borders and migration across North America. This installment begins exploring the conditions south of the border that drive migration north by exploring the recent history and economy of Mexico. As NAFTA’s “free trade” policies impoverished and displaced millions, border militarization altered previous patterns of seasonal migration and established a permanent undocumented underclass of millions in the United States. The author cuts through myths around the “drug war,” helping to explain the complex web of players from the Sinaloa and Zetas cartels to the Mexican state and the social movements that contest them both—and how the situation might be transformed, if US drug and immigration policies changed. The episode concludes with an inspiring story of the determined and colorful resistance to state violence by the community of San Salvador Atenco. This episode provides a brief introduction to the fierce, many-sided conflicts across Mexico resulting from the actions of the US government and exacerbated by the Mexican state and cartels, but always contested by popular forces.

Notes and Links

  • Table of Contents:
    • Introduction {0:01}
    • The South {0:25}
    • Mexico: Labor, “Free Trade,” and the Roots of Migration {1:25}
    • Mexico: Cartels, the State, and the “Drug War” {9:24}
    • Story #1: San Salvador Atenco {23:21}
    • Conclusion {26:34}
  • Note: For this audiobook, we will not provide full transcripts of the text of each episode as we do for The Ex-Worker or The Hotwire. If you want to read along, you can find the book in PDF.

  • You can check out our poster diagramming the North American border regime and immigrant solidarity stickers.

  • Stay tuned next week for Episode 4: The South, Part 2 – Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.