In his new book, Midnight in Mexico, Alfredo Corchado, born in Durango and the son of an immigrant farmworker, tries to explain to his parents why he decided to return to Mexico despite their best efforts to give him and his siblings a better life on the other side of the border. He tells how the night before they left the country for good, his mother hired a curandera (healer) to do a ritual cleaning so that they would leave behind all of the evils that had befallen them in their Mexican hometown. Yet, in the mid-1990s, Corchado, a rising star as a U.S. journalist, decided to return to Mexico to try to understand the changes taking place in the country of his birth. Since then, he has mostly lived in Mexico, covering the news and interpreting it to a U.S. audience, first as a Wall Street Journal reporter and later as bureau chief for the Dallas Morning News.
However, his return to Mexico is filled with ambiguities, with both shadows and light. He loves the country and admires the profound changes that have taken place in the last two decades, but his vision shifts in recent years as he begins to cover organized crime stories in Chihuahua, Tamaulipas, and other states. There are even times when Corchado himself becomes part of the story, receiving death threats from criminal groups and living through terrible experiences with the families of those killed in the violence, with journalists who face constant danger for telling the truth, and with friends and colleagues who are killed along the way. His faith in Mexicans and his love for his country of origin contrast sharply with the frustration he feels at the impunity that dominates parts of the country.