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Latin America and the Zombie Factor

The publication of Theories of International Politics and Zombies by Daniel Drezner,[1] a highly regarded professor at Tufts University, is the first of what could become a long line of crossovers between academic research and fictional situations involving zombies. Surprisingly well-received, Drezner’s innovative public policy study discusses the repercussions of a zombie horde in international … Continued

The publication of Theories of International Politics and Zombies by Daniel Drezner,[1] a highly regarded professor at Tufts University, is the first of what could become a long line of crossovers between academic research and fictional situations involving zombies. Surprisingly well-received, Drezner’s innovative public policy study discusses the repercussions of a zombie horde in international affairs; in his work, the author discusses how conservatives, idealists, realists and constructivists would combat masses of the undead attacking their countries. Drezner paraphrases former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s idea of being prepared for the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns. According to the former official, known unknowns are security threats (i.e. terrorist attacks) that are likely to occur, but it is difficult to predict when they will happen; while unknown unknowns are security threats that we don’t actually know exist until they appear, for example an alien invasion or, for the sake of our argument, a zombie epidemic.

Besides Drezner, other scholars have begun to apply international relations theories to fictive situations and scenarios. Another example is offered by Stephen Saideman, a professor at McGill University in Canada, who has blogged about applying the basics of IR theory to the HBO fictional series Game of Thrones.[2] This TV show, based on books by George R.R. Martin, has become so popular that a recent article published by Foreign Policy[3] featured the situations and characters of the series, while combing them with IR realpolitik theory.

While Drezner employs a theoretical approach to the “zombie threat,” this analysis will consider the fictional scenario of what would happen if zombies appeared specifically in Latin America. For the sake of argument here we will focus on zombies as they appear in the films by George Romero, such as Dawn of the Dead, or as depicted in the critically acclaimed book, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. This article is not meant to be a mockery of the region’s reality, but rather a creative tool to analyze how effective governmental and societal responses would be in the case of a fictional zombie epidemic. This analysis is useful to both highlight the problems that Latin America currently faces, and also to make the assessment if the region is ready to handle a global infectious disease and consequent security threats. So, how would Latin America fare when a horde of the undead appears in that region?

The Scenario: Patient 0 / The Epidemic Appears

When a zombie epidemic appears in Latin America, an obvious first issue would be figuring how it started; theories would include pollutants via the water or food supply, or a disease only recently discovered in the Amazon due to deforestation or even due to a government experiment gone wrong. For the sake of argument we will assume that Latin American zombies are the same as to be found in Hollywood movies, in which the undead are desperate for sustenance, which is only placated by eating non-infected flesh, which results after biting humans and infecting them; it only takes one zombie to create an army of the undead. Typically, the zombie “condition” comes about after a highly infectious virus is spread through contact with saliva or by biting your victim; once infected, the sick person severely suffers from high fever and shaking fits; eventually the virus kills its victims and re-animates the dead corpse within hours.[4]

As the virus begins to spread, it is likely that regional governments and civil society will probably assume that it is the outbreak of some known illness like dengue, cholera or mad cow disease. A reason for this assumption is that there have been several outbreaks in recent years of diseases with zombie-like symptoms in Latin America. For example, Mexico’s swine flu outbreak in 2009 killed almost 200 people and hospitalized almost 2,000 more. The situation deteriorated so quickly that by April of that year schools across the nation closed for over a week to prevent spreading the disease among young children, and even general public gatherings were promptly limited.[5] The epidemic gave health officials fears that it could go global as swine flu appeared across the border in Texas and California.

More recently, in 2011, United Nations peacekeepers from Nepal inadvertently started a cholera outbreak in Haiti, which, by August 2011, had killed over 3,500 people. A March 2011 report by the BBC highlighted the variety of estimates of how many Haitians currently are, and could possibly become, infected, with numbers ranging from 400,000 to a possible 779,000 by November of 2011.[6] A July 2011 article in the Los Angeles Times published “the [Haitian] Health Ministry reported more than 1,000 new cholera cases a day last month [June].”[7] The Haitian epidemic was exacerbated by the country’s barely-functioning health system, particularly after the January 2010 earthquake, which killed tens of thousands. Cholera, another possibility in the range of similar diseases, is a well known killer in Latin America. Peru suffered an outbreak of this disease in 1991, the result of inadequate management of human waste flowing into rivers that led to Lima, and a lack of both education and the amenities for proper personal hygiene.[8] Thousands of individuals were infected with cholera, and hundreds died. The speed at which these diseases managed to spread can be compared to the rapid pace at which the zombie infection spreads in films. For example, in 28 Days Later, the zombie-like infection spreads quickly, sometimes just by touching someone or something that has been infected. In one scene, a character gets infected when a drop of blood of an infected bird falls on his eye.

Another theory would be that the zombie outbreak in Latin America might appear due to some type of massive radiation in the environment, maybe attributed to an accidental radioactive spill. Unfortunately, there has already been at least one radioactive incident in the region. In September 1987 individuals in Goiania, Brazil, while looking for scrap metal, went into an abandoned clinic (the Instituto Goiano de Radioterapia) when the security guard wasn’t present, and took a container that had 93 grams of highly radioactive cesium chloride.[9]The radiation killed four individuals and another 245 suffered from various degrees of radioactive contamination, 20 of which had signs of radiation sickness, before the situation was brought under control. The Goiania incident can be compared with the film Return of the Living Dead II (1988), which centers around a couple of cemetery workers opening a sealed military barrel with one of the undead in it; the two workers become sick and, due to other incidents, the epidemic quickly spreads.

Government Emergency System

As the zombie infection spreads and the hordes of the undead appear, Latin American governments will have to protect their population and prevent the disease from spreading. In the film Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), the “evil” Umbrella Corporation builds a wall around the fictitious Raccoon City where the zombie outbreak first started; Umbrella’s wall fully isolates the city, leaving non-infected civilians trapped in the city with the zombies. Latin American governments would not necessarily go to such extremes to isolate the epidemic, but one positive factor is that the region has at least some experience with major evacuations.

For example, during the eruption of the Puyehue volcano in the southern part of Chile in June 2011, the government evacuated as many as 3,500 victims from the affected region.[10] Peru faced similar situations in the southern part of the country, like the Ubinas volcano eruption in March/April 2006.[11] Thousands of civilians were forced to evacuate as local water sources were polluted and livestock died due to ash fall. Both countries suffered earthquakes in recent years: southern Peru experienced an 8.0 in the Richter scale on August 15, 2007 and northern Chile experienced an 8.8 in the Richter scale on February 27, 2010, which once again put local government emergency systems to the test.

A critical factor in order to protect civilians as they flee zombie areas will be how well regional governments can communicate with their population and carry out organized evacuations. In zombie movies that deal with the initial spread of the undead, we can see how governments try to inform their citizens of what actions to carry out. For example, in the 2004 film Dawn of the Dead and in the film Shaun of the Dead characters listen to TV broadcasts where the news presenters advise the population on what to do in view of the growing zombie threat. Hopefully, the experience Latin American governments have gained from dealing with natural disasters will provide them and their populations with the necessary aid when the undead appear.There are at least some promising signs regarding this issue, as when Peru suffered a strong earthquake in August 2007, radio stations and even live TV shows continued on air with their programs, informing the population of what to do. Thus, if zombies appear, it seems likely that news stations would continue to operate according to their abilities, as portrayed in the previously mentioned films.

Emergency response systems and evacuation plans, out of necessity and reality, would be different in the Caribbean islands, as a major source of concern occurs every summer in the shape of the hurricane season. Cuba’s generally well-organized civil society is regarded as having one of the best emergency warning systems, including shelters in various neighborhoods[12]. Nevertheless, other islands like Grenada and Dominica, do not appear to have well-articulated systems in place to shelter or evacuate citizens and tourists in case of a natural disaster emergency. After Hurricane Tomas hit the island of Saint Lucia in late 2010, Prime Minister Stephenson King declared a state of emergency, as bridges were swept away and over a dozen were killed; the official stated that it had been the worst natural disaster in the history of the island, particularly in the south. Meanwhile, in Jamaica, a child died and “roads [were] blocked or made impassable, bridges collapsed and persons [were] trapped by the rising waters” when a freak storm hit the island in September 2010.

The Caribbean has a regional organization in charge for such events, namely the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Emergency ( ) and there have been several declarations from high level officials regarding making disaster preparation a priority, including by the Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Albert Randim of Suriname. In addition, international powers like the U.S. and the European Union have donated funds to Caribbean states in for supporting disaster preparedness and the reconstruction of infrastructure caused by major natural disasters. Nevertheless, much still needs to be done in that region. Furthermore, the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti showed that this country, despite repeated natural onslaughts, lacks the necessary means to reach remote areas affected by a major natural disaster to provide first aid while restoring order. There have been a few references to zombies appearing in islands; for example in the film Land of the Dead, survivors manage to get into a yacht and flee in search of deserted islands, hoping that they will be infection-free. In addition, the premise of the 2011 zombie video gameDead Island is a group of people trying to survive a zombie infestation with very few means to evacuate a fictional island off the coast of Papua New Guinea. Hopefully by the time zombies appear, Caribbean states will have developed better emergency evacuation methods, though not enough resources are devoted to these issues in several states.

Finally, it is important to mention the new comedy entitled Juan de los Muertos (Juan of the Dead – 2011), which centers around zombies appearing in modern day Cuba. The film narrates that the Cuban government reports to its citizens that the zombie violence are actually being caused by dissidents paid by the U.S. government; which has as subtle message that even during a major security issue , governments like the one in Havana might spin the situation using standard ideological rhetoric. The film does not necessarily deal with Cubans trying to flee the zombie-infested island, but how their society adapts to it, and even profit (like the main character’s business of killing zombies for other people).

The Role of Militaries in a Period of Crises

When the zombie hordes appear throughout Latin America, regional security forces, like the police and military, and even paramilitaries groups, may have to step in to battle the undead and keep them from infecting widening circles of civilians. It is common in several zombie films that security forces appear to save the main characters and help to restore order (like in the film Shaun of the Dead– 2004); in addition, the book World War Z imagines how the world, especially powerhouses like the U.S. and China (where the zombie epidemic started) would deploy their militaries to deal with the zombie uprising.

The Latin American militaries have a history of taking control of their governments if they perceive a national security threat. As the zombie epidemic spreads, it is difficult to predict how Latin American militaries would behave vis-à-vis the constitutional order so their countries are not effortlessly overrun by zombies. On the one hand, military leaders could be expected to remain subservient to the civilian leadership, while on the other, some officers may see it as their duty, or at least in their own self-interest, to take control of the government and organize a defense campaign against the zombies. The recently deceased former Uruguayan dictator Juan Maria Bordaberry, is an example of this phenomenon, as he was widely regarded as a puppet president at the mercy of his country’s military when he held power in 1972-1976.[13] A scenario of how civil-military relations in Latin America would be shaped when zombies appear would be the 2007 film 28 Weeks Later, in which a post-epidemic (not a zombie related case) London is under military control, as attempts are made to repopulate the city with civilians. A Bordaberry-28 Weeks Later scenario in which a civilian government, at least in principle, exists, but operations regarding zombies fall under full military control, would be a likely possibility.

In June 2011, Howard Wiarda, a Rusk Professor of International Relations at the University of Georgia and a senior associate in residence with the Americas Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) wrote a report entitled “Constitutional Coups? Military Interventions in Latin America.”[14] In his extensive analysis, Wiarda explained that

“in Latin America, while one constitutional article may proclaim, that the armed forces are ‘nonpolitical, non-deliberative, and totally subservient to civilian authority,’ another will say they have a special responsibility, even an ‘obligation,’ to intervene under certain circumstances: if the country is attacked, if internal order is upset, or if the political system is gridlocked.”[15]

He also argued that his “working hypothesis was that the Latin American constitutions elevate the armed forces into almost a fourth branch of government, with special obligations and responsibilities.”[16] Certainly, in times of extreme danger, like internal civil wars, Latin American militaries obtained power over their country’s internal security. Peru’s military during the 1980s at the height of its internal civil war versus Shining Path and the MRTA (Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru), or the military regimes as seen in South America in the 1960s to 1980s that carried out repressive operations against leftist violent and non-violent groups, are examples of the appearance of these de facto rightwing regimes during times of extreme national unrest. It can be assumed that when zombies appear regional militaries will see this situation as an extreme security crisis and will want a greater role in the decision-making process of how to deal with the undead. In the film Return of the Living Dead II (1988), an army colonel orders the destruction of 20 square blocks of Louisville, Kentucky by a nuclear artillery shell, killing zombies and non-infected civilians alike, seemingly without consulting with any civilian leaders. Meanwhile, in the British 2011 film World of Dead: The Zombie Diaries (2011), British troops summarily execute civilians to prevent the zombie infestation from spreading; but there is no mention of them answering to any kind of civilian leadership.

Order Breaks / Each Person for Themselves

In several Hollywood films, zombies ultimately take over the globe as governments and militaries prove unable to control the living dead hordes. Should zombies appear tomorrow in Latin America, the undead will have to battle not only traditional security forces and also a plethora of well-armed, violent-prone movements, such as narco-insurgent groups like Peru’s Shining Path and Colombia’s FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) and ELN (Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional), and, arguably, the Paraguayan People’s Army (Ejercito Popular Paraguayo – EPP). Adding to the list of violent criminal elements are the ever-expanding Mexican cartels, such as Sinaloa, the Zetas, the Familia Michoacana and the Gulf Cartel, which are presently spreading their influence and operations into Central America (particularly Guatemala). There are also international gangs such as the Mara Salvatruchas. Further down south, the Brazilian favelas were home to lawless criminal groups, like the infamous Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC- First Command of the Capital). Furthermore, besides these major criminal organizations, low-level crime is widespread throughout the region, particularly in major cities like Caracas, Mexico City and Lima. In films like Resident Evil II, 28 Days Later, and the TV series The Walking Dead, we see the appearance of gangs (sometimes made of former military or police units), who band together to protect themselves from zombies in small patches of land. Latin America already has a somewhat similar structure, with Mexico’s case being the most extreme as some may argue that the Cartels have divided the country into a narco-feudalist state.

In addition, Latin America’s various violent organizations have proven to be well-organized and well-equipped, with a multitude of means for acquiring weapons. For example, Shining Path and the EPP typically pick up guns from ambushed government security forces. In addition, black markets are common in Latin America; therefore, the illegal purchase of weapons is widespread. For example, a June 2011 article in the Peruvian daily Peru.21 explained how a person can easily buy a revolver illegally for roughly 300 soles (about $110) in a black market to be found in downtown Lima.[17]

While this situation does not help regional forces combat crime in the pre-zombie world, it would help to keep people alive when the living dead appear. In movies like the zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead(2004), a constant problem for zombie survivors was trying to find weapons with which they can protect themselves. In the AMC TV series The Walking Dead, a group of survivors launch a daring operation to go to zombie-infested Atlanta to retrieve a bag full of shotguns and ammo, as they barely had any in their camp. Survivors in zombie movies usually run out of ammunition fairly quickly or simply do not have enough weapons, so they have to resort to baseball bats or axes for protection. A lack of weapons or ammo would not be too much of a problem in a zombie-infested Latin America; for example in June 2011, Mexican soldiers found a buried cache of weapons apparently stockpiled by a drug cartel, probably the Zetas, which included 154 rifles and shotguns and more than 92,000 rounds of ammunition in an underground chamber by the city of Monclova in northern Mexico.[18] The cache also included four mortar shells, two rocket-propelled grenades, dozens of assault rifles, sniper rifles and two bows.

It is conceivable that as survivors try to flee zombie-infested areas, they might decide to reinforce vehicles around them. To adequately protect themselves, they can refer to similar Hollywood and real life examples for inspiration: Mexican cartels are fabricating their own armored vehicles, like the infamous “monster” trucks that transport Cartel members on their way to attacks.[19] These vehicles are similar to armored cars that survivors in zombie movies build to escape the undead, like the armored buses that appear in Resident Evil: Afterlife, 2010, and Dawn of the Dead, 2004.

The Culture of Death

Usually, at some point in zombie movies, the main characters have some moral dilemma regarding shooting one of the undead who used to be a living person, perhaps someone they even knew. For example, in Shaun of the Dead the main character struggled to shoot his recently deceased mother, who dies from a bite and eventually comes back as a zombie. Another example occurs in Resident Evil: Apocalypse, where a main character has difficulty shooting her policeman friend who has just turned into one of the living dead. On the other hand, Dr. Brendan Riley of Columbia College Chicago, explains in Generation Zombie that in Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, the heroes eagerly dispatch the zombies infesting the mall they’ve commandeered, as they show no remorse for these killings, since they understand the zombies to be non-people, showing empathy only in moments of pause.[20] The Columbia College professor explains that in said film a scientist on television describes the zombies as: “These creatures are nothing but pure, motorized instinct. We must not be lulled by the concept that these are our family members or our friends. They are not. They will not respond to such emotions.” Regarding this issue, a quick overview of the recent history of violence demonstrate that the value of life in Latin America and Caribbean has decreased to the point that the region could deal, fairly easily (generally speaking) with the psychological and moral ramifications of a zombie apocalypse.

Unfortunately, there is a surplus of current examples showing that the value of life has generally decreased in this violence-prone region: teenage hit-women have appeared in Mexico,[21] and in 2010, Mexican security forces arrested a 14-year-old teenager known as Edgar Jimenez Lugo (aka El Ponchis), allegedly a major ring-leader for a cartel. He admitted to beheading several individuals, whether they were members of rival gangs or not. “When we don’t find the rivals, we kill innocent people, maybe a construction worker or a taxi driver,” he stated to the media.[22] That criminal organizations recruit child-soldiers to swell up their ranks is, unfortunately, not a new development to Latin America or, for that matter, for other global conflicts. However, even in the pre-zombie world, it seemed particularly alarming the rate at which this is occurring in Mexico. After capturing a 13-year-old girl that was a member of the Zetas Cartel, a local Mexican police officer stated to the media that “we are noticing that cartels are recruiting younger members, we have detained underage individuals in Veracruz and Zacatecas, and they continue to appear.”[23] In the TV series The Walking Dead, children are not used as fighters against the zombies; however it would seem that when zombies appear in Latin America children would readily be given weapons, just like anyone else.

Furthermore, the culture of death and general disregard for human life is not necessarily unique to Mexico. In Brazil, children as young as 11 are known to have become killers during gang battles in the favelas.[24] Also in Peru, large groups of street children called “piranhas” attack and rob random people in the streets, often with senseless cruelty.[25] Regarding Central America, the expansion of Mexican drug cartels to the region brought greater levels of violence. This resulted in an increase of violent crimes, like the May 2011 massacre of 27 people in a Guatemalan cattle ranch.[26] The Central American wars and dictatorships in South America, like in Augusto Pinochet’s repressive regime in Chile, the high levels of violence in Latin America’s recent past, combined with ongoing drug-related violence, seem to show that there would not be major psychological issues (broadly speaking) regarding shooting the living dead in that region.

The role of Religion

In an interview with COHA, a high school teacher from Jalisco highlighted the widespread and growing popularity of a culture to the Santa Muerte (Holy Death). The revered image is a hooded skeleton accompanied by a globe and a scythe; its growing popularity is seen as a consequence of the narco-culture taking over the country, as the Holy Death protects from danger, but does not discriminate against the good or the evil-doers because it does not have eyes.[27] Such particular beliefs, which combine religion with violence, might become even more popular once the zombies begin appearing in the region.

The issue of the Santa Muerte brings up the topic of religion in Latin America whenthe undead appear. At this point it is necessary to state the origins of the zombie myth originate in Haiti, where the belief in them is part of local voodoo tradition (see Kyle Bishop’s article Raising the Dead for a more in-depth analysis of Haiti’s zombie-voodoo history). Hollywood has a somewhat basic way of inserting religion into some of its films. For example in the 2004 film Resident Evil: Apocalypse, a scene shows some survivors hiding in a church, in which a priest has tied up his sister, who has already become a flesh-eating zombie, and protects her. Meanwhile, George Romero’s “films are not about ‘punishment for sin.’ Romero’s universe is certainly not a Christian one (the occasional religious references are always negative). Rather, we have an accidental universe, an unholy mess.”[28] These movies portray a zombie uprising in an American scenario, and not Latin America’s religious reality, which is mostly Catholic and has a prominent role in everyday life. How would religion (not just Catholicism but also other religions present in the region like Islam and Judaism) affect the behavior of the Latin American population vis-à-vis the appearance of zombies? We will leave this question open.

Miscellaneous Issues

In addition to the aforementioned topics, should zombies appear in Latin America, there are a number of other issues which would come into play.

For example how would the U.S. government and military act if a zombie infection appeared south of its borders? The U.S. had a long history of military intervention in Latin America (i.e. Haiti, Dominican Republic and Panama) as well as covert operations (i.e. Nicaragua and Guatemala). Nevertheless, most of those operations occurred during the Cold War, and if the zombies appeared tomorrow, Washington would find itself overspread due to its military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. A critical factor regarding the U.S.’ actions towards a zombie-infected Latin America would be heavily contingent on what political party is in power in the White House, as this will influence the country’s interventionist or isolationist tendencies. Riley explains that “Return of the Living Dead (1985) explores both conspiracy theory and culture clash with its clearly-delineated groups of straight-laced kids and punks, and its malevolent military who deploys a nuclear weapon to cover up its own illegal testing.”[29] Hence, in spite of whether Democrats or Republicans are in control of the White House, the U.S. government will probably continue to view Latin America as its zone of interest, so some type of intervention will be likely.

Moreover, still on the topic of international support, a critical issue for dealing with the zombie hordes will be level of cooperation between Latin states when the undead appear. In the 2011 film World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries, British soldiers and civilians try to reach the coast, where ships will take the survivors to mainland Europe, where the infection is not widespread. But this resembles more of a humanitarian operation rather than a multinational military operation, and this occurs in a very integrated Europe. Historically, Latin American nations have been very protective of their national sovereignty and do not appreciate foreign militaries within their borders. An example of this attitude occurred during a 2008 incident when Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez proclaimed that if Bolivian President Evo Morales was removed from power due to major protests at the time, he would send his Bolivarian army to reinstitute his Andean friend to presidency. Needless to say, this statement that was not well received by the Bolivian military. It is debatable whether a major international security threat like the zombie factor would force Latin American governments to reconsider their historical differences and tensions with other states. For example, when the undead appear in Arica, would Santiago ask Lima to deploy its military to fight the zombie horde in that disputed region (as Chile and Peru had a war in the 19th century, dubbed the War of the Pacific, in which Chile gained that territory)? Besides the books World War Z, and Drezner’s Theory of International Politics and Zombies, not much has been written about international cooperation in face of the zombie threat (besides the aforementioned World of the Dead reference). The historical tensions and border disputes, as well as ongoing integration initiatives in Latin America add an unclear variable of how well the region could unite in the face of a common, transnational enemy.

Finally, there is the question of the effects of the zombie violence on local populations. Understandably, when the zombie violence becomes widespread, there will probably be major levels of forced migration, as families escape the violence and infection. For better or worse, Latin American states are already used to this. For example, as a result of the 1980s war in the Andes between Peruvian government forces and the MRTA and Shining Path, thousands of Peruvians became internally displaced people (IDP) when they fled to major coastal cities, particularly Lima. In addition, Colombia has the second highest rate of IDPs in the world due to its decades-old civil war against the FARC, ELN and drug-cartels. Likewise, Mexico is experiencing population movements within its borders as citizens flee from cities consumed in major cartel-related violence in the northern part of the country, and move to safer areas in the center and south. When zombies appear, it is only logical that people would migrate to safer zones. A similar situation happened in the 2005 film Land of the Dead, where survivors of the zombie apocalypse managed to concentrate in a few cities, with fences around them to keep the undead away.


It is important to stress that we have analyzed Latin America as a whole, with general examples from different countries to give an idea of what could happen when zombie hordes appear. Analysts and specialists from each Latin American and Caribbean country can give a more in-depth analysis explaining how their own nation would fare in case of a zombie uprising, providing facts and issues not covered in this analysis. If anything, this would be an interesting and amusing hypothetical exercise.

Our analysis of what would happen in the case of a zombie epidemic in Latin America highlights a few realities of the situation in the region. For example, healthcare systems across the region as well as pollution incidents make the region ripe for a zombie outbreak and governments would be unprepared to evacuate civilians from zombie-infested areas as the epidemic spreads. Furthermore, the historical propensity for interventions (i.e. coups) means that Latin American militaries would likely step in if there should be a zombie-created national security crisis. Finally, if governments and militaries fail to control a zombie horde, the widespread availability of weapons and the very existence of so many criminal groups, combined with a decreased value of life would mean, ironically enough, that the inhabitants facing a zombie-apocalypse in Latin America might actually have a fighting chance at survival.

This author would like to thank the following people for their help with this article:

  • Dr. Brendan Riley, professor at Columbia College Chicago, popularly known for his class “Zombies in Popular Media,” which has been featured in several news articles.
  • Vanessa van Arendonk, a graduate student at the New School and Miss Curacao Universe 2003, for her zombie-related knowledge and suggestions.
  • The hordes of COHA research associates whose feedback made this article interesting and engaging.


[1] Drezner, Daniel W. Theories of International Politics and Zombies. Princeton University Press. January 2011. Available < >

[2] Saideman, Steve. “Game of Thrones and IR Theory.” Saideman’s Semi-Spew. Blog Post. June 23, 2011. Available < >

[3] Rosenberg, Alyssa. “Realpolitik in a Fantasy World.” Foreign Policy. July 18, 2011. Available < >

[4] We will not go into the historical origins of the term zombie, as related to the voodoo tradition imported from Africa to Haiti and how the belief was exported to movies. For a good anthropological study, see: Bishop, Kyle. “Raising the Dead.” Journal of Popular Film & Television. 33/4. 2006. P. 196-205.

[5] Partlow, Joshua. Mexican Schools shut as epidemic hits ‘critical’ point.” The Washington Post. April 28, 2009. Available < >

[6] Roberts, Michelle. “Haiti cholera ‘far worse than expected,’ experts fear.” BBC. March 15, 2011. Available < >

[7] Gaestel, Amy. “Haiti again caught in cholera’s grip.” Los Angeles Times. July 24, 2011. Available <,0,4930249.story >

[8] Tickner, Joel & Gouveia-Vigeant. “The 1991 Cholera Epidemic in Peru: Not a case of Precaution gone awry.” Risk Analysis. Vol. 25, No. 3. June 2005. P. 495-502. Available < >

[9] Cesium Radiation Dispersal in Goiania, Brazil. Biot Report #234. July 7, 2005. Available < >

[10] Wilson, Cherry. “Puyehue volcano in Chile erupts, prompting mass evacuation.” The Guardian (UK). June 5, 2011. Available <

[11] “Volcano prompts Peru evacuation.” April 23, 2006. Available < >

[12] “In the eye of the storm: Disaster Management Lessons from Cuba.” Medic Review: Health and Medical News of Cuba. 2005. Available < >

[13] Garces, Raul O. “Former Uruguayan dictator Juan Maria Bordaberry dies.” Washington Post. July 18, 2011. Available < >

[14] Wiarda, Howard J. & Collins, Hillary. “Constitutional Coups? Military Interventions in Latin America.” Center for Strategic and International Studies. Americas Program. June 2011. Available < >

[15] Wiarda, J. & Collins. “Constitutional Coups?” Center for Strategic and International Studies. P. 3.

[16] Wiarda, J. & Collins,. “Constitutional Coups? Center for Strategic and International Studies. P. 3.

[17] Briceno, Ana. “Crece el Mercado negro de armas.” Peru 21. June 18, 2011. Available < > Also see: Cegarra Mantilla, Ernesto. “Informe: La amenaza del ilegal mercado de las armas del fuego en el pais.” El Comercio (Peru). April 18, 2008. Available < >

[18] Castillo, Eduardo.“Mexican soldiers seize huge cartel weapons cache.”Associated Press. The China Post. June 5, 2011. Available < >

[19] Cave, Damien. “Monster trucks on the road, from gangs in Mexico.” New York Times. Americas. June 7, 2011. Available < >

[20] Riley, Brendan. “The E-Zombies: Zombies in the Digital Age.” In Boluk, Stephanie & Lenz, Wylie (eds). Generation Dead: Essays on the Living Dead in Modern Culture. McFarland. June 2011.

[21] “Mexico drug gangs hires ‘pretty’ hit women in new strategy to surprise enemies.” Telegraph. August 18, 2010. Available < >

[22] Alexander, Harriet. “Mexico drug wars: El Ponchis, 14-year old assassin, admits to four gruesome murders.” Telegraph. December 4, 2010. Available < >

[23] “Mexico: detienen a nina de 13 anos perteniciente al clan de los Zetas.” El Comercio (Peru). From El Universal (Mexico). August 8, 2011. Available < >

[24] Glusing, Jens. “Child Soldiers in the Drug Wars – Violence in Rio de Janeiro.” Spiegel. March 2, 2007. Available <,1518,469510,00.html >

[25] “Callao: bandas juveniles tras la violencia.” Peru21. July 2, 2010. Available < >

[26] “Guatemala attributes massacre to Zetas, declares state of emergency.” Latino Fox News. May 17, 2011. Available < >

[27] “Abren narcos ruta a la ‘Santa Muerte.’” El Porvenir (Mexico). October 24, 2007. Available < >

[28] Wood, Robyn. “Fresh Meat.” Film Comment. January-February 2008. P. 29.

[29] Riley, Brendan. “The E-Zombies: Zombies in the Digital Age.” In Boluk, Stephanie & Lenz, Wylie (eds). Generation Dead: Essays on the Living Dead in Modern Culture. McFarland. June 2011.

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