Last night’s event at Waterstone’s Piccadilly, following Saturday’s talk at the Edinburgh Book Festival, was one to restore your faith in such proceedings. It was packed, it was passionate, and no-one seemed to want it to end, or to leave, judging by the healthy scrum around the three authors – Sergio González Rodríguez, Diego Enrique Osorno, Emiliano Ruiz Parra – at the end. As our host, Ed Vulliamy, pointed out, it was an audience with three of the bravest men any of us are ever likely to meet – because it is more dangerous to be a journalist in Mexico than in any other country bar perhaps Syria.
Diego Enrique Osorno, Emiliano Ruiz Parra and Sergio González Rodríguez en route to the event.
Over the course of an intense hour and a half, we learned about the “disappearance” of forty-three law students in Ayotzinapa; about twenty-two oil workers drowned in the Campeche Sound; about the forty-nine children killed in a fire in a nursery in Hermosillo; and about how all these deaths can attributed to negligence and corruption from a government that is no longer in any way accountable to its citizens. In all, more than 160,000 lives have been lost in the decade since Mexico’s “war on drugs” was declared.
Emiliano Ruiz Parra and Ed Vuillamy.
Later today, Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, is scheduled to make his state-of-the-nation address, just twenty-four hours after his humiliating summit with Donald Trump. But last night, in his closing address, Christopher MacLehose suggested that The Sorrows of Mexico should be thought of as an alternative and more honest assessment of the current state of a deeply embattled country.
A rapt audience – standing room only at the back.
And throughout the evening, the authors called for Britain to stand in solidarity not with Mexico’s government but with its people, to highlight Mexico’s appalling human rights record and to press for change, rather than turning a blind eye in pursuit of lucrative contracts. We hope that the publication of The Sorrows Mexico, and this week’s author tour, will raise awareness of Mexico’s plight and go some way to help that solidarity take root.