The Sorrows Of Mexico

it’s never ever easy reading about contemporary Mexico. Billed as “an indictment of their country’s failings by 7 exceptional writers” .. indeed, keeping up with Mexico’s resident narco/government/military carnage feels more & more like witnessing a total “failed state” scenario as a kind of criminal coup rolls it’s drape ever further. The seven journalists gathered are Lydia Cacho, Sergio Gonzalez Rodriguez, Marcela Turati, Emiliano Ruiz Parra, Anabel Hernandez & Juan Villoro. I know Cacho’s work well, specifically her astonishing 2012 book Slavery Incorporated which I think remains one of the most important & harrowing books penned in the last decade. Hernandez Narcoland was another seminal book of great acclaim that was also familiar to me, with all the other authors engaged here being unknown. There’s a lot of history & complexity to this recent nadir in Mexico, but in reductionist terms – something unquantifiably awful & catastrophic has become fantastically profitable & advantageous to a small section of people who now aggressively expand & guard the survival of this ghastly “market” with it’s many subdivisions & social ramifications creating additional/auxiliary opportunities or power-related advantages. Capitalism here is found favouring a different kind of criminal or criminality (drug production & all the murder & enforcement that goes with it) as a syndicate/drug operation is essentially an illicit corporation & pertains to the same capitalist models & “growth” ambitions. The military, the police, the narco’s, the gangs, the special units all interchanging & all operating among absurd indemnity & cardinal corruption create an almost impossible mess where law facilitates crime & crime facilitates law & the two spheres just become identical weapons for getting the job done anyway the whichever regional/occupational madman decides. In the eye of this impunity & nightmare violence are the people & society struggling to function under this new abnormality. The drugs go North, the guns go South!

Sectioned into three stages – Outrage, Impact & Making A Stand, the writers offer reportage or broader analysis & reflection straying the many channels & events the crisis entails. Cacho’s piece “Fragments From A Reporter’s Journal” dredges a detailed history of Mexico’s media/politics kiss of death & how surreptitious agreements & allegiances were forged over half a century ago that have consolidated furtive alliance & corruption at the core of the political apparatus. She also includes a very raw & personal account of her experience as a persecuted journalist who has survived abduction & torture. Sergio Gonzalez’s twenty one page “Anamorphosis Of A Victim” is an extraordinary piece of writing. It’s almost post apocalyptic, but without the apocalypse & without the latter’s cessation of capitalism, which keeps on running here despite the suspension of normal living conditions. “ The spaces occupied by criminals can no longer be distinguished from those inhabited by the political class. Organized Crime’s knowledge of the individuals field of activity and property that it can exploit means potential victims are subject to systematically planned searches and attacks that expand centrifugally. The lack of demarcation between what is legal and illegal covers the trails of those who resort to crime. Or to politics. Victims are conscious of a reduction in the space for living their lives that correlates with the growing expansion of the space for criminals. Where the latter predominate, any division between the public and the private vanishes. The victim assumes the status of hunted prey. Or of a person enjoying the provisional freedom granted by organized crime.”

Mexico is one of the most extreme cases the world has to offer presently, but for those that feel that “politics” is increasingly resembling the ultimate form of organized crime, this book & this besieged nation provide an excruciating paragon of such perversion.

But of course, the 2014 “ mass disappearance” of the 43 Ayotzinapa teachers in training (often referred to now as the “Normalistas”) in Iguala/Guerrero who’s remains were apparently incinerated is also covered within The Sorrows Of Mexico extensively, most notably by Anabel Hernandez. The account tells how the students were attacked by municipal, federal & state police officers (in the presence of the military) before being hunted through the town & disappeared (including testimony from the single survivor).

When reading about the horror of modern day Mexico, it’s always worth remembering that so much of the profit from this butchery & terror is laundered through the West, specifically London. As many of you will recall, HSBC was caught washing the blood & brains from narco’s remunerations (along with all manner of extremely unsavory terror/criminal/kleptocratic clientele) under the ‘we just like the money, not interested in it’s origins’ code that is so prevalent in the financial sector (a “sector” that is nothing but a subsidiary of organized crime if you ask me). So decapitations are actually fine (as with our Saudi friends), it’s just that ISIS are not commercially acceptable? Or profitable enough… yet?

Harsh reading, but essential – an immense book on this urgent issue (the book also secured the English Pen Award).

Authors: Lydia Cacho. Segei Gonzalez Rodriguez, Marcela Turati, Emiliano Ruiz Parra, Anabel Hernandez & Juan Villoro.

Publisher: MacLehose Press –