In the Mouth of the Wolf: A Murder, a Cover-Up, and the True Cost of Silencing the Press
Reviewed by: John Stokdijk
Why did I read this book?
This book was chosen by the members of the Ajijic Book Club, which I launched in 2016. I left the club at the end of 2022 but it continued under new, very capable, leadership. I was asked to attend one meeting in 2023, leading the discussion of this book in September. I accepted the invitation so I read this book because I had an obligation to do so. But because I live in Mexico, having moved here from Canada in 2012, I was very interested in the contents of In The Mouth of the Wolf: A Murder, a Cover-Up, and the True Cost of Silencing the Press by Katherine Corcoran.
The rest of this book report consists of my answers to the discussion questions I have prepared for our meeting.
What was your general experience reading this book?
I enjoyed reading this book while I was reading it. It tells a compelling story that is well-written. But I would put it down and forget about it for a few days. However, this is not a negative comment about the book. My attention has been captured by other interests and activities that are overwhelming me.
What degree of knowledge of the murder of journalists in Mexico did you have before reading this book?
I had a general sense that Mexico was one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. I remember attending a local public presentation by one such journalist a few years ago. If I remember correctly, he was living mostly in the US out of concern for his personal safety. Sadly, I do not remember his name. And I often scan Mexico News Daily which does some reporting on this matter.
Before reading this book, had you ever heard of Regina Martínez?
On April 28, 2012, Regina Martínez, correspondent for the national investigative magazine Proceso, was discovered beaten to death in her bathroom in Xalapa, the capital city of the Gulf state of Veracruz. Her death made news around the world.
Sadly, but necessarily, our minds have a finite capacity to remember facts. Stories fade and are overshadowed by subsequent stories. This story will fade, as will the story of Shireen Abu Akleh, the Al Jazeera journalist shot by an Israeli soldier on May 11, 2022.
Did the stories of other characters in the book capture your interest? If so, who? Why?
Yes. I found the story of Katherine Corcoran, the author, absorbing. Her journey from being the Associated Press bureau chief in Mexico City, to deeply investigating the death of Regina Martínez for years, writing the book, and what she does today is very interesting.
I also found the story of Javier Duarte, Governor of the State of Veracruz from 2010 to 2016, quite interesting.
Starting in 2007, Veracruz under Fidel Herrera and later Governor Javier Duarte was among the top three deadliest states for mayors or mayoral candidates, not just journalists.
In April 2017, Javier Duarte was arrested in a hotel lobby in Sololá, a resort city on Lake Atitlán in Guatemala, in an international operation involving Interpol, Guatemalan police, the DEA, and other law enforcement trying to locate his whereabouts. He was extradited that July and later sentenced to nine years in prison, after pleading guilty to charges of criminal association and money laundering.
Having lived in Mexico for over ten years, I have become increasingly aware of the level of corruption in this country. And corruption has significantly impacted my life here more than once. Not much seems to be changing as I observe a pattern. New federal and state governments routinely announce they are addressing the corruption of the previous administration. On it goes.
After reading this book, would you travel to Veracruz?
I have no particular desire to go to Veracruz but nothing in this book would cause me to hesitate. The book focuses on the dark side of Mexico which can trigger fears. But I feel safe living where I do.
I live in the State of Jalisco and I live well. Yet this area has the presence of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, apparently one of the most aggressive and violent cartels in Mexico. I would probably be as safe in Veracruz as I am in Jalisco.
How well are you coping with living in a post-truth world?
Then something truly extraordinary happened. In the course of investigating Regina Martínez’s murder, my country started to look more like Mexico. Truth became optional; and information, a weapon used to control and manipulate.
And my country, Canada, is also beginning to look more like Mexico. And I am very aware that the situation is about to become even more challenging because of AI. But personally, I am coping quite well.
I have lost trust in the mainstream media. And I have lost trust in the alternative media which is the source of both the best and worst versions of the truth. Mostly, I have learned to live without a need for THE TRUTH, comfortable with uncertainty.
Why was Regina Martínez murdered? Katherine Corcoran investigates several theories. Which one seems most probable to you?
I DO NOT KNOW and I am comfortable with not knowing. What seems least probable is that she was murdered in a conflict with a lover. A credible confession by the murderer would give us the answer.
What closing comments would you like to make that my questions have not solicited?
A little research into Katherine Corcoran’s current activities did not turn up much. Her website lists no upcoming events although I found one in San Miguel de Allende https://i3sma.org/katherine-cocoran-nov-7-2023/.
She is currently codirector of MasterLAB, an investigative editor training program in Mexico City.
I could find no information online about MasterLAB.
Her LinkedIn page is https://www.linkedin.com/in/katherine-corcoran-2822544/