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© PEDRO PARDO, AFP/Getty Images
Demonstrators protest government corruption in Iguala, Mexico
In 2007, Alfredo Corchado's cell phone vibrated in his jeans pocket. The Mexico correspondent for the Dallas Morning News, he was at home in his Mexico City apartment, drinking a glass of tequila. It was the last time, he writes, that he felt safe in that country.

A longtime source told him that the Zetas, the paramilitary spin-off of a powerful drug cartel, planned to kill an American. And it seemed likely to be Corchado.

That's the opening scene of Corchado's book "Midnight in Mexico." On Monday, a year and a half after its publication, he spoke to a large crowd at Rice University.

Now, he notes, the situation in Mexico is even more dire than when he wrote the book: The death toll of the war between drug cartels has mounted. Most recently, the country has been shocked by the deaths of 43 college students. According to prosecutors, the mayor of the town Igual ordered police to confront the students. The police, it's said, turned the 43 students over to a gang, which killed them and dumped their bodies.

"Many people wonder if the government of [President Enrique] Peña Nieto has some responsibility in this," Corchado said. "I say that there are obviously guilty people everywhere.
The army was near that town, and it took too long for them to initiate an investigation."


Comment: To put the Iguala massacre in perspective with the massacres in Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, and beyond, it's necessary to understand that this violence is a symptom of an infection that crosses all professional and ethnic barriers. From Political Ponerology: A Science on the Nature of Evil adjusted for Political Purposes:
Pathocracy is a disease of great social movements followed by entire societies, nations, and empires. In the course of human history, it has affected social, political, and religious movements as well as the accompanying ideologies and turned them into caricatures of themselves. This occurred as a result of the participation of pathological agents in a pathodynamically similar process. That explains why all the pathocracies of the world are, and have been, so similar in their essential properties.
As a result of America's rampant warfare and pathological lying, on an unprecedented scale, along with the work of secret teams, this virus has eroded any semblance of international law and order:

Mexican drug cartel claim Bush and Obama administrations made deals with drug lords

Reality Check: Fast and Furious Operation was really about US supporting a drug cartel


He discussed the matter further in an interview.

Question: Do you think that those who think that Peña Nieto is responsible are right?

Answer: I think that any Mexican authority has responsibility. They're guilty in one way or another. The fact that he [Peña Nieto] talks so nice about Mexico, about its opportunities, its better economy, its reforms in the gas and oil industry and so on, but he doesn't address the issue of security... He took over after more than 100,000 people had already disappeared in the country, and now he doesn't want to talk about it because it belongs to the past. It's like saying, "Let's turn the page, let's change the subject," isn't it?

That also creates a watershed for many victims in Mexico. We must return to the starting point and speak clearly about what's going on in Mexico. We have to heal together, share the pain to create solidarity. With all these protests going on in Mexico because of the student massacre, Mexicans are calling for solidarity. Mexico wants the world to share its pain.

Q: Do you think that Mexico has finally touched bottom with the slaughter of these students?

A: I have covered so many slaughters, I have seen so many ugly things in Mexico that I often say we've already hit bottom. But we haven't.... I have many doubts about where the bottom is. But I am sure that this (the massacre in Iguala) is a watershed for Mexico. You can't stop talking about this, about the corruption, the drug cartels. You can't remain silent, the government can't remain in denial.

Q: In your opinion, what should be Peña Nieto's position?

A: He has to confront reality. Mexico can't stand on a sand foundation because reforms and opportunities can vanish at any moment.


Comment: More from Political Ponerology: A Science on the Nature of Evil adjusted for Political Purposes
When bad times arrive and people are overwhelmed by an excess of evil, they must gather all their physical and mental strength to fight for existence and protect human reason. The search for some way out of difficulties and dangers rekindles long-buried powers or discretion. Such people have the initial tendency to rely on force in order to counteract the threat; they may, for instance, become 'trigger happy' or dependent upon armies. [or they might attack and burn down the buildings that represent the threat] Slowly and laboriously, however, they discover the advantages conferred by mental effort; improved understanding of psychological situations in particular, better differentiation of human characters and personalities, and finally, comprehension of one's adversaries. During such times, virtues which former generations relegated to literary motifs regain their real and useful substance and become prized for their value. A wise person capable of furnishing sound advice is highly respected.

Q: Why your book is called "Midnight in Mexico"?

A: When I thought of the title of the book, the only thing that immediately came to my mind was midnight, because it was midnight in July 2007 when I received a call from an American researcher to tell me that there was a threat against a U.S. citizen and three names had emerged. One of them was mine.

That was the longest night in my life. I was thinking that I was born in Mexico, I moved when I was six years old with the hope of one day returning to Mexico. We went to California, then to Texas. Later I returned to Mexico as a correspondent....

Imagine, you go back to your country, you see what's going on but you try to cover the sun with one finger. You admit that there are drug problems here, but you think that the rest should be exaggerations. Suddenly you are threatened. To me that night was key. I thought, "Should I stay? Should I leave?" I could no longer cover the sun with a finger.

Q: What did you think when you got that information?

A: I felt very vulnerable and incredulous. I thought about talking to those bad people to ask them what I had done, how have I offended them. But then I asked myself, "Why the hell do I have to do that?" I felt a mixture of fear, anger and courage. I think you feel something like that when you see what's happening in Guerrero. It's a mixture of emotions.


Comment: Again, from Political Ponerology: A Science on the Nature of Evil adjusted for Political Purposes:
The actions of [pathocracy] affect an entire society, starting with the leaders and infiltrating every town, business, and institution. The pathological social structure gradually covers the entire country creating a "new class" within that nation. This privileged class [of pathocrats] feels permanently threatened by the "others", i.e. by the majority of normal people. Neither do the pathocrats entertain any illusions about their personal fate should there be a return to the system of normal man....

The cult of power thus supplants the mental and moral values so essential for maintaining peace by peaceful means. A nation's enrichment or involution as regards its psychological world-view could be considered an indicator of whether its future be good or bad.



Q: They have killed many journalists in Mexico. Why did you stay?

A: That's right, but they were killing Mexican journalists. I felt more protected because of my American citizenship. At first everyone told me to leave -- my editors, my girlfriend, my friends, people who knew, although my parents didn't know until the end. However, I decided to stay to try to investigate more.

Q: What would you add to your book after the slaughter in Iguala?

A: Sometimes I wonder if it's still midnight in Mexico. I usually think that it might be 12:30 p.m. or that maybe is dawning. Sometimes I think we've gone backwards and midnight is coming. I think it's like the Mexican society that sometimes takes one step forward and two steps backwards.

I think what happened in Guerrero confirms everything. The situation is very clear. There's corruption among the authorities with the drug cartels, the organized crime. I remember people asked me when the book was published, "Is it true that things are so bad in Mexico as you say in the book? That seems incredible." But now what happened in Guerrero is very clear. You saw the complicity of local and municipal governments and perhaps state governments. You realize the degree of complicity and impunity at those levels. It's a real chutzpah.

But what worries me most is the apathy in Mexico. A few years ago, a colleague who could not report certain things would give me a call and say, "I can't do it because I'm censored, but here is the information." They were interested in publishing things, but today you call a colleague and he tells you that he doesn't know anything and he doesn't care. Why? Because nobody cares. Then you feel hopeless. There's no hope. I don't think it's like that throughout Mexico, but in some areas people are tired. That is worrisome because it speaks of a civil society, the current Mexico.

There are rallies and protests now, and hopefully they'll continue, but it's not only a matter of going on the streets. People have to learn to hold others accountable.

Q: What would be the most productive turn for Mexico right now?

A: For me one of the saddest moments as a journalist was to cover the slaughter in Ciudad Juarez in January 2010. The population reached a level of anxiety, anger, disbelief. They wanted to leave the country. There was a time in which Juarez was the worst but today the situation has improved. I'd say that the civil society has changed.I think the civil society plays a role in the changes, in accountability, in breaking the silence. They go from door to door and talk to reporters. These are slow changes, but they're changes after all. When you ask yourself what is hope? Hope is when you start to see small things, little outbreaks of community initiatives. When you see communities come together to create initiatives in neighborhoods, something as simple as what they told me the other day about the creation of a sports team for children to play football, that means they have overcome fear....

Q: What has been your worst experience in Mexico?

A: Ciudad Juarez. The day of the funeral after the massacre where more than 30 people were shot. Fifteen people died, mostly students, young people with dreams, people who studied and worked, many of them lived in the same neighborhood. You go to the funeral and it starts to rain. You see three or four hearses on the street, ready to transport young people from the homes where their parents have been mourning. I doubt there was any reporter who didn't cry that day. The rain saved us, for it allowed us to hide the tears and pretend we were doing our job.