First-rate reportage of a political murder that “wasn’t supposed to happen in the Mexico of Vicente Fox.”
Digna Ochoa y Plácido, a 37-year-old attorney, had been feted by Hollywood stars and East Coast liberals for her determined work in exposing violations of civil rights on the part of the Mexican government and military and the paramilitary death and narcotics-trafficking squads that worked alongside and for them. Diebel, onetime Mexico City correspondent for the Toronto Star, reveals that Ochoa had personal as well as political reasons for her interest in exposing their crimes: She had been kidnapped and raped in Veracruz, only days after discovering a blacklist of union organizers and political activists in the office of the state attorney general. But she was a committed democrat, too, and her investigations evidently hit home, for Ochoa was murdered, shot point-blank in the head, in October 2001. The job was professional. She had been tracked and killed away from her home, and her murderer knew just who she was, leaving behind a note threatening her fellow human-rights activists: “You sons of bitches, if you keep it up we’re going to screw another one of you too.” The new government of President Vicente Fox, friend of George Bush and ostensible reformer and outside-the-system type, did nothing. Fox refused even to acknowledge that a crime had taken place. His attorney general—a former senior officer in the military—did not act; in time, the official explanation was that Ochoa died by suicide, never mind the forensic evidence to the contrary. Diebel patiently explores all these cover-ups and deceptions. Her conclusions will not surprise anyone who knows Mexico, where the military is the strongest branch of organized crime, but they will astonish readers unaware that our neighbor to the south is far from a democracy.
A carefully constructed, righteously angry investigation.