The other side : an alternate approach to the narconarratives of Bolivia, Colombia, and Brazil



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The dissertation examines novels that represent new spaces and agents of the drug trade, that re-map the trade across Latin America, and that raise questions regarding how narcotrafficking creates moral and ethical crises among people from different social classes. The corpus of literature examined includes the works of ten authors from the three countries. Juan de Recacoechea, José Wolfango Montes Vanucci, Homero Carvalho Oliva, and Tito Gutiérrez Vargas are Bolivians and write from three regions in the country. Alison Spedding is the only foreign-born author writing novels about the Bolivian drug trade included in the analysis. Darío Jaramillo Agudelo and Juan Gabriel Vásquez represent the Antioquia and Bogotá departments of Colombia. Rubem Fonseca, Patrícia Melo, and Marçal Aquino write from the cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo in Brazil. Within these novels, I examine mid-level roles of the illegal drug trade, those that have remained invisible in the mainstream representations. The levels of participation portrayed in the works range from urban, middle and upper class workers to land owners of the Bolivian countryside. My emphasis on the implications of these less spectacular roles shows that the moral decay, lack of values, and the consumer frenzy are not exclusive of the poor. The upper classes are driven by the same ambitions to access the money of the drug trade. In order to reconsider the use of narcofiction as an effective tool for narrating the realities of the illegal drug trade, I propose a reading of how the power and influence of narcotrafficking expose a lack of scruples in the search for financial gain on the part of what I call mid-level participants. Such a term helps me give visibility to the actions of these characters that are so needed in the business: money launderers, corrupt police officers, drug mules. This reading makes it possible to also consider the issues of culpability and impunity and the social and political divisions which are created to maintain these structures.