Wednesday, March 19, 2014
From the Booskshelves: Midnight in México: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Country’s Descent into Darkness by Alfredo Corchado
In the last six years, more than 80,000 people have been killed or disappeared in the Mexican drug war, where trafficking is a multi-billion dollar business. In a country where the powerful are rarely scrutinized, noted Mexican American journalist Alfredo Corchado refuses to shrink from reporting on government corruption, murders in Juarez, or the ruthless drug cartels of Mexico. A paramilitary group spun off from the Gulf cartel, the Zetas, controls key drug routes in the north of the country. In 2007, Corchado received a tip that he could be their next target—and he had 24 hours to find out if the threat was true.
Rather than leave his country, Corchado goes out into the Mexican countryside to investigate the threat. The more curious he becomes, the more secrets he uncovers. As he frantically contacts his sources, Corchado suspects the threat is his punishment for returning to Mexico against his mother’s wishes. His parents had fled north decades earlier after the death of their young daughter, and they raised their children in the California field where they worked as migrant farmers.
Corchado returned to Mexico as a journalist in 1994, convinced that Mexico would one day foster political accountability and leave behind the pervasive corruption that has plagued its people for decades. But in this land of extremes, the gap of inequality—and injustice–remains wide. Even after the 2000 election that put Mexico’s opposition party in power for the first time, the opportunities of democracy did not materialize. The long-ruling PRI had worked with the cartels, taking a piece of their profit in exchange for a more peaceful, and more controlled, drug trade. But, the party’s long awaited defeat created a vacuum of power in Mexico City, and in the cartel-controlled states that border the U.S. The cartels went to war with each other in the mid 2000s, during the war to regain control of the country instituted by President Felipe Calderón, only the violence flourished.
The work Corchado lives for could kill him, but he’s not ready to leave Mexico—not yet, maybe never. Midnight in Mexico is the story of one man’s quest to report the truth of his country as he races to save his own life. It is his search for home and in the darkest hours his determination to find hope. At the dawn of a new sexenio and as Democrats and Republicans debate immigration reform, Corchado’s book is an essential read.