Review: Dying for the Truth - Undercover in the Mexican Drug War


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"We hope to be alive long enough to hold this book in our hands. It's very hard to write that we may have been killed by the time you read this." Dying for the Truth is a collection of photos and testimonies on the Mexican Drug War. I came across Blog del Narco in 2017. It was mentioned in Tom Wainwright's Narconomics  and I was swift to discover what these bloggers, writers and activists were doing on their website. Much like searching for the term narcofosas (narco-grave) in the Google Engine, discovering Blog del Narco changes the way you understand violence. 

Of-course, the international community knows about ISIS and its staged acts of cruelty, but it seems the Mexican gangs and paramilitaries have matched or exceeded the Salafi-jihadists in the violence and cruelty.  Dying for the Truth is the compatriot to Blog del Narco and rarely does it hold back on condemning criminals and officials alike for allowing the drug war to spiral out of control.

 At times, I had to put the book down to grasp what I was looking at. At other moments, I didn't even know what I was looking at, all I knew was that it was a dismembered piece of human flesh. What I respect about Dying for the Truth is precisely the unfiltered approach to conflict, a necessary evil to confront despicable acts of inhumanity and war crimes. 

The images and photographs, contrary to the frequently glorified or downgraded violence of gang violence in mainstream television and cinema, are utterly grotesque and deeply disturbing. The photographs of Dying for the Truth and videos of Blog del Narco have stayed engraved on the mind ever since. It is hard to forget someone getting chopped up while they're still alive, someone getting decapitated, someone getting dismembered, someone getting stabbed to death or someone have their face flayed and skinned while they are still alive. Gazing at a bloodied human skull, scalped, with human eyes protruding from the orbits  and the victim's face propped next it like a Halloween mask is something you do not forget. 

Dying for the Truth is not a work of art. It is an act of courage and necessity which demonstrates how depraved the violence has become in parts of Mexico. The book is not Mexico, it does not define the country, but it reveals the true depth of human cruelty and the world's complicity in and ignorance of the Mexican Drug War and its terrible costs. It is a story which needs to be told not just in the United States but in Europe and Asia and to all those who are affected by the drug trade.