Feb. 27, 2005 12:00 AM
MEXICO CITY - Mexico's school libraries are stocking a book that includes the lyrics of "narcocorridos," folk songs that glorify drug traffickers, causing a storm of criticism in a country where the drug market and its violence have become part of life in thousands of communities.
Opposition activists are incensed that the administration of President Vicente Fox, which has declared a "war on all fronts" against drug gangs, allowed tens of thousands of copies of the book 100 Corridos: The Heart of Mexican Song to slip into grade-school libraries.
The book, printed by a private publishing company but bought in bulk by the government, contains lyrics for songs like The Red Car Gang, which describes Mexican cocaine smugglers shooting it out with Texas Rangers.
Some education officials tried to depict the scandal as an example of overly zealous censorship of a song genre that for centuries has celebrated outlaws and the common man. They noted one of the best-known and oldest corridos, La Cucaracha, also contains references to drugs.