Search Results for: Alma Guillermoprieto

What Happens When a Doctor Decides to Battle a Drug Cartel

Cartel Land, the new documentary by director Matthew Heineman in theaters July 3, follows Dr. José Manuel Mireles, a small-town physician known as “El Doctor,” who leads the Autodefensas, a citizen uprising against the violent Knights Templar drug cartel in the state of Michoacán in Mexico. The above clip, exclusive to Longreads, features Mireles attempting to gather volunteers and support from one town.

Things have changed for both the Knights Templar and the vigilantes since the film’s completion. As Heineman told Variety: “Very, very quickly I realized that this story was much more complex and much more gray, that the lines between good and evil were not that clear. I became obsessed with trying to figure out what was really happening, who these guys truly were, where the movement was going, what the endgame was.”

More Stories from Mexico’s Drug War:

1. “The Hunt for El Chapo” (Patrick Radden Keefe, The New Yorker 2014)

2. “The Murderers of Mexico” (Alma Guillermoprieto, New York Review of Books 2010)

3. “The Mistress and the Narcotraficante” (Ricardo C. Ainslie, Texas Monthly 2013)

Interview: Vela Magazine Founder Sarah Menkedick on Women Writers and Sustainable Publishing

Cheri Lucas Rowlands | Longreads | Oct. 2 2014 | 10 minutes (2,399 words)


Three years ago, Sarah Menkedick launched Vela Magazine in response to the byline gender gap in the publishing industry, and to create a space that highlights excellent nonfiction written by women. Last week, Menkedick and her team of editors launched a Kickstarter campaign to grow Vela as a sustainable publication for high-quality, long-form nonfiction, to pay their contributors a competitive rate, and to continue to ensure that women writers are as recognized and read as their male counterparts. Menkedick chatted with Longreads about her own path as a writer, the writer’s decision to work for free, building a sustainable online publication, and the importance of featuring diverse voices in women’s nonfiction.

* * *

Let’s talk about Vela’s origins. You created Vela in 2011 as a space for women writers in response to the byline gender gap — yet it’s not a “women’s magazine.” Can you explain?

Like so many women writers, I was discouraged by the original VIDA count in 2011. I was also a bit disenchanted with a certain narrowness of voice and focus in mainstream magazine publishing, which tended to be very male, because men tend to dominate mainstream magazine publishing. Talking about the alternative to that gets really dicey, because it’s icky to talk about a “womanly” or “female” voice. I wanted to say: nonfiction and literary journalism written by women doesn’t have to sound like this sort of swaggering male writing, or like the loveable snarky-but-sweet meta writing of John Jeremiah Sullivan or David Foster Wallace. It can be like . . . and there we run short on models, because there aren’t very many women being widely published whose work falls into that middle zone between “creative nonfiction” — which tends to be more academic, more experimental, more the types of essays appearing in literary magazines — and traditional journalism.

Read more…

Longreads Member Exclusive: A Visit to Havana

This week, we’re proud to feature a Longreads Member Exclusive from Alma Guillermoprieto and The New York Review of Books.

Born in Mexico City, Guillermoprieto has covered Latin America for NYRB since 1994, and she has also written for The New Yorker, The Guardian and the Washington Post. Today’s feature, “A Visit to Havana,” is about her return to Cuba for Pope John Paul II’s arrival in 1998.

See an excerpt here.

p.s. You can support Longreads—and get more exclusives like this—by becoming a member for just $3 per month.

(Illustration by Kjell Reigstad)

Longreads Member Exclusive: A Visit to Havana

Longreads Pick

(Subscribe to Longreads to receive this and other weekly exclusives.) This week, we're proud to feature a  Member Exclusive from Alma Guillermoprieto and The New York Review of Books. Born in Mexico City, Guillermoprieto has covered Latin America for NYRB since 1994, and she has also written for The New Yorker, The Guardian and the Washington Post. Her books include Dancing with Cuba: A Memoir of the Revolution and Looking for History: Dispatches from Latin America, which includes the below story, "A Visit to Havana," about her return to Cuba for Pope John Paul II’s arrival in 1998.

Published: Mar 26, 1998
Length: 35 minutes (8,874 words)

Dozens of reporters have been killed in Mexico over the last 12 years by drug traffickers, and very little has been done to investigate their deaths and bring the murderers to justice:

Let us say that you are a Mexican reporter working for peanuts at a local television station somewhere in the provinces—the state of Durango, for example—and that one day you get a friendly invitation from a powerful drug-trafficking group. Imagine that it is the Zetas, and that thanks to their efforts in your city several dozen people have recently perished in various unspeakable ways, while justice turned a blind eye. Among the dead is one of your colleagues. Now consider the invitation, which is to a press conference to be held punctually on the following Friday, at a not particularly out of the way spot just outside of town. You were, perhaps, considering going instead to a movie? Keep in mind, the invitation notes, that attendance will be taken by the Zetas.

Imagine now that you arrive on the appointed day at the stated location, and that you are greeted by several expensively dressed, highly amiable men. Once the greetings are over, they have something to say, and the tone changes. We would like you, they say, to be considerate of us in your coverage. We have seen or heard certain articles or news reports that are unfair and, dare we say, displeasing to us. Displeasing. We have our eye on you. We would like you to consider the consequences of offending us further. We know you would not look forward to the result. We give warning, but we give no quarter. You are dismissed.

“Mexico: Risking Life for Truth.” — Alma Guillermoprieto, The New York Review of Books

More by Guillermoprieto

As US immigration policy has focused on deporting the greatest possible number of undocumented migrants, no matter what their situation, a great many Salvadoran deportees, some of whom grew up in the United States and hardly speak Spanish, have found themselves back in their country of birth. A number of these unwilling returnees are mareros, who either join the local branch of their organization or try to flee back home (that is, to the United States), joining a migrant trail across Mexico used by hundreds of thousands of would-be US immigrants every year. Along the way, the mareros are often recruited by Mexican drug traffickers, who have developed highly lucrative sidelines in white slavery, child prostitution, and migrant extortion. Assault, robbery, and rape are now an expected part of the migrant journey through Mexico.

“In the New Gangland of El Salvador.” — Alma Guillermoprieto, The New York Review of Books

See more #longreads from Alma Guillermoprieto

Grantland's Jay Caspian Kang: My Top 5 Longreads of 2011

Jay Caspian Kang (pictured above) is an editor at Grantland. His work has also appeared in the New York Times Magazine and The Morning News. His first novel, The Dead Do Not Improve, will be published by Hogarth/Random House in August 2012.


David Hill: “$100 Hand of Blackjack, Foxwoods Casino” (McSweeney’s)

This is the sort of piece you want to compare to other writers like Didion or Carver or even James Baldwin, but you hold off because you don’t want to piss off the author by getting it wrong. Yes, there’s a bit of Didion’s calmness here, a bit of Carver’s bleariness, and a bit of Baldwin’s honesty-at-all-costs, but David Hill’s prose sings with a melancholy that’s truly original. The one piece from 2011 that had me punching the wall with jealousy. By far my favorite read of the year.

Mike Kessler: “What Happened to Mitrice Richardson?” (Los Angeles magazine)

Great crime writing. Thoroughly reported and well constructed.

Alma Guillermoprieto: “In the New Gangland of El Salvador” (New York Review of Books)

My thoughts on Guillermoprieto can be found here.

Francisco Goldman: “The Wave” (The New Yorker, sub. required)

This is gut-wrenching. Goldman’s novel, Say Her Name, is somehow even more powerful.

Jon Ronson: “Robots Say the Damnedest Things” (GQ)

When this very funny piece about robots is over, you start thinking a bit differently about love. I don’t know how Jon Ronson achieved that effect, but “Robots Say the Damnedest Things,” was my most fun read of 2011.


See more lists from our Top 5 Longreads of 2011 >

Share your own Top 5 Longreads of 2011, all through December. Just tag it #longreads on Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook. 

Jay Caspian Kang: My Top 5 Longreads of 2010

Jay Caspian Kang is a fiction writer living in San Francisco. He is the author of The High is Always the Pain and the Pain is Always the High, an essay on gambling addiction that appeared in the Morning News and has been named on several “Best of 2010” lists. 


In no particular order.

THE LEGEND OF BLACK SUPERMAN — Rafe Bartholomew, Deadspin

I’m typing this in a Starbucks in the Robinson’s Place Mall in Manila. Everywhere I go in this city, I am reminded of Pacific Rims, Bartholomew’s chronicle of the place of basketball in the culture of the Philippines

The excerpt on Billy Ray Bates was my favorite sports read of the year. Any documentary filmmaker who wants a subject…

THE MURDERERS OF MEXICO — Alma Guillermoprieto, New York Review of Books

What else could you possibly ever want out of a journalist? Fearless, measured and whip-smart with an eye for narrative detail that should be the envy of every writer who has ever read her work.

Her reflections, observations and opinions on the war in Mexico should tower over every other work on the subject, the way Orwell towers over the Spanish Civil War. Hopefully, before it’s too late, someone in publishing will drive up to Guillermoprieto’s door with a suitcase filled with money, because if there is going to be another Homage to Catalonia, it will be Alma Guillermoprieto on the Narco Wars.  


The perfect companion for the world’s most baffling music video. I wish someone had done this for the Wu, circa 1994.

Ronson also broke open the seal for long-form articles written specifically to explain baffling youtube videos. Like somebody please write 3,000+ words on how they got that fucking bird to dance to that Willow Smith song. Choire Sicha, I’m looking you straight in the eyes and I am saying please. 

PELE AS A COMEDIAN — Brian Phillips, Run of Play

There are so many reasons why this essay should annoy me. It’s about a really kinda bad David Foster Wallace essay, it’s about soccer and it involves a lot of footnotes. And yet, it took me about a paragraph to discard all those hang-ups and just revel in the quality of writing, the intelligence of the mind at work.


The only reason I still watch the show. And, along with temperate weather and Mexican food, one of the three reasons why I love living on the West Coast. Because on Wednesday and Thursday mornings, I can wake up and have Lawson’s mammoth recaps already posted on Gawker.

Sometimes, I find myself typing and deleting twitter messages to Richard Lawson. Mostly, they are about how my day is going. Sometimes, they are jokes about Crystal Bowersox. Once, it was a suggestion he get cloned so he could also write about the Biggest Loser