The neoliberal Houdini who escaped from (poverty and) prison: Chapo’s narcocorridos, political communication and propaganda





Larrosa-Fuentes, Juan

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Chapo Guzmán was the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel. Although he was a well-known criminal, there is a scarcity of first-hand information about his career. This situation raises a question: how did Guzmán become a public figure without having public exposure? This communicative phenomenon is possible because drug cartels have sophisticated propaganda techniques that allow them to challenge the State not only in the military but also in the cultural realm. Among other media, these criminal organizations use narcocorridos, a popular music genre, as a medium for propaganda. This paper studies, through a narrative analysis of 66 lyrics, how music, as a form of political communication, is used as propaganda. This study found three main narratives in the narcocorridos dedicated to Guzmán: a) the origins of this drug dealer; b) the masculine features that led him to be a global kingpin; and c) his genius for corrupting political systems. These lyrics are propaganda because a) they spread knowledge in the form of stories about Guzmán; b) they create a mythology about the kingpin and the narco-world; and c) they distort reality by picturing Guzmán as a great man and blur reality by suppressing any reference to the drug wars.

Palabras clave

Political Communication, Comunicación Política, Propaganda, Chapo Guzmán, Narcocorridos, Corridos, Teoría Fundada, Análisis de Texto, Análisis Narrativo, Narrative Analysis


Larrosa-Fuentes, J. (2020) The Neoliberal Houdini Who Escaped from (Poverty and) Prison: Chapo’s Narcocorridos, Political Communication and Propaganda. In Media, War & Conflict.