A History of Violence: Living and Dying in Central America
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
This is a book about one of the deadliest places in the world
El Salvador and Honduras have had the highest homicide rates in the world over the past ten years, with Guatemala close behind. Every day more than 1,000 people—men, women, and children—flee these three countries for North America. Óscar Martínez, author of The Beast, named one of the best books of the year by the Economist, Mother Jones, and the Financial Times, fleshes out these stark figures with true stories, producing a jarringly beautiful and immersive account of life in deadly locations.
Martínez travels to Nicaraguan fishing towns, southern Mexican brothels where Central American women are trafficked, isolated Guatemalan jungle villages, and crime-ridden Salvadoran slums. With his precise and empathetic reporting, he explores the underbelly of these troubled places. He goes undercover to drink with narcos, accompanies police patrols, rides in trafficking boats and hides out with a gang informer. The result is an unforgettable portrait of a region of fear and a subtle analysis of the North American roots and reach of the crisis, helping to explain why this history of violence should matter to all of us.
July 2011, police officers started following Roberto “El Burro” Herrera, who is currently detained at a maximum-security prison and has been identified as the leader of the Texis Cartel. Their chase led them to the Drive Inn restaurant, where Herrera was seated in a private room with El Maniático and Chepe Furia. What Chepe didn’t know at that point was that the Inspector had finished piecing together his puzzle, that El Niño had told all his secrets, that Chepe’s fight with the state was about
uncomfortable. “Yeah fine,” he says, half talking to himself. “If you’re asking me whether the lords control the border and know every time I step foot into El Paraíso or El Espíritu, fine, I tell you the answer is yes. And I ask myself how they know, and I have to answer that my people have been infiltrated.” We ride in an uncomfortable silence with El Tigre continually turning to me, as if waiting for me to speak. “He’s worried,” I tell him, meaning the mayor. “Yeah, but it’s fine. If you
passed since then, and a lot has changed on the outside. “When you get out,” I asked him, “would you start working again?” “I don’t think so, my friend. It’s a mess out there. Everything changed with Los Zetas. Those brutes don’t understand pacts. They don’t negotiate. They get into every kind of crime, and so they squeeze you, and they heat you up.” “How do you know that?” “Look, friend. Look where I am. All sorts of people come in here. Here you get to know what’s going on better than if
extortion, murder and drug trafficking in the states of San Miguel, Santa Ana, Sonsonate and Chalatenango. He told them many secrets, secrets that spanned sixty-three typed pages. Secrets that the prosecutors gave titles to, including: “Case Closed on Old Street,” “Homicide on Don Yon Plaza,” “Case of Carmen Guerra.” The prosecutors believed Abeja’s secrets would help them jail forty-seven gangsters, including Medio Millón. The prosecutors typed in their report: “These facts come from the
felt humiliated. “He is a killer, a murderer, just like the others. A butcher. His job is to butcher people. Seriously, these people barely resemble human beings. They’re animals, and I don’t mean to disrespect animals, but these narcos are the most brutal people we’ve ever come across—they’re responsible for many murders. We are going to clamp down on all of their possessions. We won’t even leave them televisions to watch the news on. This is a message to all the narcos who are going around