GV Face: Is That El Chapo on Your T-Shirt? The Glamorization of Violence in Latin America

T-shirts, songs, fame, and even a Rolling Stones interview. Who wins and who loses in the glamorization of violence?

In places where opportunities are rare and discrimination and poverty is rampant, images where violence is normalized, and even glamorized, can become powerful.

In this episode of GV Face, we explore the issues that play out when images of cartel criminals like El Chapo Guzman are reappropriated and glamorized in pop culture and entertainment. We speak to Elizabeth Rivera and Laura Vidal, our Latin America editors and Robert Valencia, a long-time GV contributor.

We present and discuss some of the ways this fascination has translated into new ways of telling stories, and even aesthetic experiences that cross borders. Both Hollywood and Latin American TV stations have taken the narco-phenomenon to the small screen and spread the images that have rapidly become stereotypical.

As a result, some views coming from the US to Latin America have shown surprise at old realities that have been part of the Latin American region for years. This has brought the expansion of new incomplete images, and the absence of the real victims of the so called “war on drugs”, the everyday citizens.

Feature image: Chapo graffiti uploaded on March 27, 2016 to Flickr by Julia d** P** K****. (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)


Start the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.