4/14/2016 The New Yorker
For several centuries, the port city of Veracruz, located in the Mexican state of the same name, was known for its carnival. Now, though, it’s known for corruption and terror. The state has become territory for the fearsome Zeta drug cartel. According to a study by Mexico’s bureau of statistics, eight out of ten people in the state say they live in fear. At least fifteen journalists have been killed in Veracruz since 2011. During the same period, hundreds of other people have vanished. Father Alejandro Solalinde, one of Mexico’s leading human-rights advocates, has called Veracruz “a factory of forced disappearances.” To many citizens, there is little difference between the rich and the government, and between the government and the criminals.
In this climate, most people don’t come forward when crimes are committed. In fact, in 2014, only one in ten was reported to local authorities, according to Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography, also known as INEGI, after its Spanish-language acronym. But in recent weeks, a man named Javier Fernández, whose daughter Daphne Fernández has accused a group of well-to-do young men of sexually assaulting her, seems to have sparked a mini revolt against the status quo. (Her name has been published in numerous Mexican media outlets and she gave us permission to use it here.) In seeking vengeance and denouncing the authorities for their handling of the case, Fernández has turned the story into a national outrage.