A ‘Glittering and Golden’ Museum to Mexico’s Drug War Is Heavy on Trinkets and Light on Tragedy

The Private ‘Narco Museum’ Documents One Side of the Story—Perhaps Someday the Public Will See the Whole Picture

Amid the gridlocked streets of northern Mexico City lies a fascinating and surreal museum that is not open to the public. Officially called the Museo del Enervante—a rather dull technical name that could be translated as the Museum of the Stupefacient—it is better known as the “Narco Museum.”

Located inside the sprawling complex of the Ministry of National Defense, the headquarters of the Mexican army, the museum gets its unofficial moniker because it displays the craziest artifacts that Mexican soldiers have nabbed from drug traffickers. Vials of marijuana, crystal meth, …

For Global Democracy, These Are the Worst of Times, But Also the Best of Times | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

For Global Democracy, These Are the Worst of Times, but Also the Best of Times

A Rising Tide of Authoritarianism Co-Exists With Advancing Forms of Participatory and Direct Democracy

Right now, it can feel like the worst of times for democracy. It also can feel like the best of times.

Democracy is under stress around the world from authoritarians and …

Why Monterey’s 250th Birthday Bodes Well for California’s Future | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Why Monterey’s 250th Birthday Bodes Well for California’s Future

The Peninsula City Has Long Embodied the Golden State’s Ability to Be a Hideaway That Welcomes Both Immigrants and Ideas

Monterey turns 250 years old next month. And the rest of the state should claim the date as its birthday too.

California is an orphan of a state, …

Aztec Kings Had Rules for Plagues, Including ‘Do Not Be a Fool’ | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Aztec Kings Had Rules for Plagues, Including ‘Do Not Be a Fool’

But When Cortés’s Soldiers Arrived Carrying a Novel Virus, the Empire First Succumbed to Smallpox and Then Fell to Spain

Every civilization eventually faces a crisis that forces it to adapt or be destroyed. Few adapt.

On July 10, 1520, Aztec forces vanquished the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés and his men, …

TKTKTK | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Border Should Inspire Us, Not Scare Us

Communities Along the U.S.-Mexico Border Point the Way to a Bicultural, Bilingual, and Binational Future

The U.S.-Mexico border offers an enduring example of binational, bicultural, and bilingual living that could be a positive model for the future—if Americans and Mexicans are willing to look beyond …