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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)


Cabrito al pastor is the perfect blend of Jewish and Mexican influences

October 3, 2018

Cabrito al pastor is often served with steamed goat’s head and machito (innards tied up in tripe)

Scraping gray strips of flesh off a kid’s skull on a recent trip to Torreón in northern Mexico, I was a little apprehensive about my first bite. Next to the head sat a ball of organs tied together with guts that glistened with fat.

But I’ve long since learned that in Mexico, it’s worth trying everything. Besides,cabrito al pastor, a spit-roasted baby goat dish not to be confused with pork tacos al pastor, is the source of great pride here in the state of Coahuila and neighboring Nuevo León.

Cabrito al pastor is one of northern Mexico’s most iconic dishes

Like tacos al pastor—a much loved Mexican take on shawarma, which Lebanese immigrants introduced to the central city of Puebla in the 20th century—cabrito al pastor is the product of Mexico’s Mestizo identity and the glorious fusion of indigenous flavors with European and Middle Eastern ingredients and influences.
My first taste came in La Majada, a local institution known for serving the best cabrito in the arid, industrial city of Torreón. Tucking into a generous plate of tender shoulder meat and crispy skin, I was immediately struck by how much gamier the flavor was than the goat birria I’ve grown to love down in Guadalajara.

Cabrito al pastor was a style popularized by Sephardi Jewish shepherds who settled in northern Mexico

The next morning I went back to meet Federico Chávez, the head chef who has worked at La Majada for 34 years. He tells me they sell 35 to 40 goats per week, with each one serving seven people…
Click here to read this article in full at Munchies

Mexico students v the state: Anniversary of 1968 massacre reopens recent wounds

October 2, 2018

Mexican army snipers from the Chihuahua building fired on student protesters in this square in Tlatelolco on 2 October 1968.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Tlatelolco massacre, when the Mexican army slaughtered scores of student demonstrators in the heart of Mexico City on the eve of the 1968 Olympic Games.

A memorial to the murdered students stands beside a colonial church and ancient Aztec ruins in Mexico City’s Plaza de las Tres Culturas.

I took a few photos at the scene of the massacre for this BBC news report by my friend Stephen Woodman.

Every 2 October, demonstrators gather at the scene of the massacre to commemorate those who were killed.