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A Massacre in Mexico: book review

October 4, 2018

An estimated 15,000 protesters marched through Mexico City last week on the fourth anniversary of the disappearance of the 43 students.

A Massacre in Mexico: The True Story Behind the Missing Forty-Three Students – By Anabel Hernández

It takes a lot to stir up sustained national outrage in a country that has been ravaged by more than 200,000 murders and 30,000 disappearances in the last decade. Mired in a disastrous drug war, Mexico’s population has grown so accustomed to news of decapitations and bodies dissolved in acid that only the most nightmarish of crimes could provoke nationwide demonstrations or threaten to bring down the government.

That was precisely the kind of atrocity committed on 26 September 2014, a rainy Friday night that will never be forgotten. That evening, a group of trainee teachers from the Ayotzinapa college in the rural southern state of Guerrero arrived in the town of Iguala to commandeer buses to take them to Mexico City the following week. They intended to participate in an annual march to commemorate the massacre of scores of student demonstrators by the Mexican army in October 1968. Little did they know they would face a similar fate.

Local and federal police repeatedly attacked the students as they tried to leave Iguala aboard five buses. Officers shot dead three students and three bystanders, wounding dozens more. One student was found the next morning with his face flayed. Another remains comatose to this day. Forty-three students detained by the police were never seen again.

Mexico’s president elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador has vowed to reopen the investigation into the disappearance of the students.

Before that night, Mexico’s handsome young president, Enrique Peña Nieto, could boast of undertaking major reforms and imprisoning Mexico’s most notorious drug lord, Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán. He even posed for Time’s front cover, appearing under the headline ‘Saving Mexico’. But when he leaves office in December this year, the lasting memory of his six-year term will be his government’s sinister efforts to cover up the disappearance of the forty-three students.

In A Massacre in Mexico, Anabel Hernández, a fearless journalist known for exposing the corruption and impunity that have undermined Mexico’s war on drugs, digs determinedly in search of the truth. She has conducted over a hundred interviews and trawled through more than a thousand official documents, and she examines the case in greater forensic detail than the government investigators, who hid, manipulated and fabricated crucial evidence, did…

Click here to read this book review in full at the Literary Review (subscription required)


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