In the plaza of Coyoacán people gather. A man and women dance to Juan Gabriel as they slowly fall in love. A man pushes a grill selling tacos and tequila. Kids run around cheerfully playing. In the center of the plaza lies a fountain with a statue of two coyotes in the middle. One coyote is leisurely sitting and waiting, the other is mindfully standing on all fours on guard. Out in the distant the volcano Popocatépetl erupts, but it’s not ashes on that fall on the beautiful people of Coyoacán. Instead, thick tears of blood fall from the sky painting the town red, and drowning the people in a sea of blood. There I stand heartbroken.
Midnight in Mexico evokes a spiral of emotions as Alfredo Corchado takes you down a journey through the history of the Mexican cartel and it’s bond to the future of Mexico. After receiving a death threat, Corchado sets out to find out why his country wants him dead in this memoir/history novel.
I read this book in hopes to understand my heritage, to get a grasp of my culture, and to learn the history of my people. In the end, I was stuck between being hopelessly hopeful and cynically uncertain that Mexico can be great.
Corchado had me falling in love with Mexico as he aesthetically describes the common people who inhabit the country, and the culture they exist in. “The pulsating norteño music – accordions and guitarrones jamming – plus the aroma of tequila lured me over. I took a seat at one of the chairs and just smiled at the women at the grill, who quickly brought me what she said was her first order of tacos of the night.”
Corchado would paint these lively images of Mexican culture only to throw a coat of black paint over it. To remind you of the corrupt shadow that lies behind the beauty. “The taco stand outside her concrete home belongs wholly to an underground economy, a shadowy world now closing in on all of us. It’s the only way she and many others like her know how to get by.”
For a while now, I’ve been wanting to visit Mexico to get in touch with my roots, and to see the place my great grandmother once lived, but when I bring up the idea my mother looks at me like a madman. “You’re crazy,” she’ll say “we’ll get shot.” I would shake off the response, thinking she has been fear mongered into believing this by the media, but I now see the issue is real.
I now see, upon reading this book, why so many people would decide to leave Mexico, and why they honestly believe there is better opportunity on the other side of the border.
How can you live in a country where the government would rather protect the criminals than the people for their own personal gain, and who can you trust?
Corchado tries to find the answers to these questions, but the deeper he digs the darker the reality is. Yet, he continues to fight to find that sliver of light among the darkness that consumes his beloved country.
After reading Midnight in Mexico, I Goggled México and clicked on the news tab. The headline for that day read “7-month-old baby shot during gang crossfire.” I wept that night.