Mexico-born U.S. journalist Corchado frames a portrait of a torn nation within an account of escaping his own murder.
“By the time this book is published,” writes Dallas Morning News Mexico bureau chief Corchado, “nearly ninety thousand people will have been killed or disappeared since President Calderón launched a war on the cartels.” Any number of people might have wanted him among them: the Zetas, enforcers for a Mexican drug lord who became drug lords themselves; lesser drug lords; corrupt officials within the military or government. As he writes, on receiving the death threat, “I scanned my recent work…looking for the story that could have pissed them off—whoever they were.” Having lived and reported through four presidencies (a Mexican president serves a single six-year term), Corchado was well-placed to gauge the seriousness of the threat—and, having gauged it, wise to head back to El Norte, the cause of so many of Mexico’s woes. His own story is emblematic, to be sure, but also common enough: After all, hundreds of young people lie dead in Ciudad Juárez because of the psychopathy attendant in the drug trade. More interesting than his personal travails are the author’s reflections on a Mexico that is malformed and crime-stricken largely due to American influences, unintended perhaps but real nonetheless, the drug cartels having filled an economic and political vacuum produced by neoliberal free trade. In fact, the cartels are perfect examples of free trade, with one drug lord standing on “the Forbes list of the world’s billionaires.” Corchado is short on prescription but long on description, especially of the disastrous policies of the George W. Bush administration, some of which helped flood Mexico with automatic weapons.
People are willing to do anything about Latin America other than read about it, or so it’s been said. This is one book about Latin America that merits attention.