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.
Advance praise for Midnight in Mexico:
“This book is about the blood-drenched borderlands that divide Alfredo Corchado’s two countries, Mexico and the United States, which still dominate his own life. Told against the backdrop of the horrifically violent drug wars that have turned much of Mexico into a charnel land, Corchado shares his own story and that of his family with a moving degree of honesty and acuity. Corchado’s love for his immigrant family and pride in what they have achieved is palpable, yet weighted down by a sense of what they, and Mexico, may have lost forever in the exchange. In many ways, Midnight in Mexico stands as a raw, real-life parable for the paradoxes of the Mexican-American experience, and it is both a riveting and gut-wrenching read.”
Jon Lee Anderson, author of Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life and The Fall of Baghdad
“Midnight in Mexico is the story of a journalist’s dangerous and notable efforts to report on Mexico’s horrible drug wars. The book brings a special clarity, the clarity of the personal and particular, to a very important and confusing subject, and it is in itself an absorbing story, marked by careful attention to fact and also by the author’s deep love for his homeland. Mr. Corchado is the kind of reporter and writer who revives one’s faith in journalism.”
—Tracy Kidder, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Strength in What Remains
“Anyone who wants to learn about Mexico on the inside, especially how the United States affects it, illegally and legally, will learn much from this sharply perceptive and moving account.”
—John Womack Jr., Robert Woods Bliss Professor of Latin American History and Economics, Harvard University
“Alfredo Corchado is the top American journalist covering Mexico today. His life embodies the complex blending of the U.S. and Mexico. Corchado’s knowledge of the Mexican political system, the drug trade, and modern Mexican society is non-pareil.”
—Howard Campbell, author of Drug War Zone
“One of the keenest observers of Mexico today, Corchado tells his story of Mexico, of the hope of its democratic opening, of the often despair at its violence, and of its ever closer ties with his other country, the United States.”
—Shannon K. O’Neil, Senior Fellow for Latin American Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
“Anyone interested in what is happening and has happened in Mexico for the past six years must read this book. We can call what is happening in Mexico a “drug war” but that phrase cheapens the politics and the economics that govern the relationship between the United States and Mexico. I believeMidnight in Mexico will become one of the most necessary books about the Mexican-American experience in this country. More than a journalist, Alfredo Corchado is the real thing, a voice that represents millions of people.”
—Benjamin Alire Saenz, American Book Award winning author of Calendar of Dust