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Back You are here: Home Columns Columns Allyn Hunt The hollow crown and governance by ‘iron whimsy’

The hollow crown and governance by ‘iron whimsy’

This new century began with Mexicans’ average consumption of books scored at less than one a year.  Mexico subsequently was tagged by some as “the country that stopped reading.”  Yet today books offering impolitely well-documented assessments of the rulers of the Republic are breaking records, popping into being like popcorn.  But truth’s a risky business. Today’s rulers tolerate truth no happier than their New Spain forebearers in Father Miguel Hidalgo’s time.  Take for instance Anabel Hernandez’s investigation of government officials’ allegedly profitable relations with the nation’s raft of drug gangs.  Her book, published in English this month, is titled “Narcoland: The Mexican Drug Lords and Their Godfathers.” 

The extraordinary thing is that “Narcoland” has already sold more than 100,000 Spanish-language copies in a country that traditionally prides itself on noticing its genius-level authors and artists only after they’ve been enthusiastically embraced and lavishly hailed by foreigners. Examples: Octavio Paz’s “Labyrinth of Solitude,” Carlos Fuentes’ “the Death of Artemio Cruz,” Juan Rulfo’s “Pedro Paramo.”  But Hernandez not only describes what is widely seen as the pathologically twisted psyches of the jefes and soldiers of drug gangs – their butchery, their joy in ghastly torture – but much more.  Her estimate of this overflowing pathology stains the political officials and elitist businessmen – and their bankers – who enable these atrocities.  Her research is authentic enough to earn her and her two children reluctant, and somewhat spotty, police protection, even when palpable death threats were made public and officials couldn’t ignore them.  Her small children are now used to coming home with their mother to find a box of headless small animals at the doorstep.

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