Contemporary Mexican author Nadia Villafuerte's 2005 collection of short stories Barcos en Houston examines what the Latin America Working Group calls Mexico's "forgotten border," i.e., its southern frontier. Revolving around the city of Tapachula, Chiapas, near Mexico's border with Guatemala, the stories portray the commodification of Central American women's bodies in the border town. This article reads Villafuerte's stories as a challenge to North-South, US-Mexico border dichotomies. Focusing on spaces like massage parlors, cantinas, and nightclubs, the stories present misery as the norm with stark realism. By representing rifts between sex workers from Mexico and those from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, Villafuerte offers a perspective on migration that has long been ignored in both US and Mexican letters: that of the South-South border. Police abuse abounds, as Mexican officials enforce a border logic that serves the US more than Mexico. I argue that Villafuerte's portrayal of racism and body commodification along Mexico's southern border reveals its status as a proxy border for the United States. After a long century of celebrated nationalist narratives, twenty-first-century Mexican authors like Villafuerte offer a critical perspective of Mexico's other spaces.


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pp. 59-75
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