In Ciudad Juárez, just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, sixteen-year-old Vicente and two of his high school friends murdered his mother, his father, and his little sister in cold blood. Through a Truman Capote–like reconstruction of this seemingly incomprehensible triple murder, Sandra Rodríguez Nieto paints a haunting and unforgettable portrait of one of the most violent cities on Earth. This in-depth and harrowing investigation into the thought processes of three boys leads the reader on an exploration of the city of Juárez, as well as the drug cartels that have waged war on its streets, in a bold attempt to explain the inexplicable.
Ideally qualified for telling this story, Sandra Rodríguez Nieto was an investigative reporter for the daily newspaper El Diario de Juárez for nearly a decade. Despite tremendous danger and the assassination of one of her closest colleagues, she persisted. She didn’t want the story of her city told solely by foreign reporters, because, in her words, “I know what is underneath the violence.” This book traces the rise of a national culture of murder and bloody retribution, and is a testament to the extraordinary bravery of its author. Among other things, The Story of Vicente is an account of how poverty, political corruption, failing government institutions and US meddling combined to create an explosion of violence in Juárez.
“As crime-beat reporter for the local paper (a job that cost her closest colleague his life), Sandra Rodríguez lives and narrates the brutalization of her city, Ciudad Juárez, at a range so close and raw it is painful to read. Yet this book—on intimate terms with Mexico’s narco-carnage, and from under its skin—draws us irretrievably into an abyss we need to know; this is the masterpiece of reportage from the murder capital of the world.”
“Frontline performs a fantastic service of giving voice to journalists who are reporting what many are afraid to. Sandra Rodríguez is one of many who does this. We need to get out there what happens when governments fail to deal with the deep corruption of both banking and narco trafficking.”
“Sandra Rodríguez is a reporter the corrupt want to keep at a distance. Untiring, exhaustive, intelligent. This is the only kind of reporter who could turn a case like that of Vicente, a child-murderer, into a story about the world of the mafia and the impunity of violence that reigns in Ciudad Juárez and in Mexico. If you want to understand Juárez, you have to read Sandra.”
“Sandra Rodríguez Nieto has got some guts. For more than a decade, she has reported from one of the world’s most dangerous cities to be a journalist—Ciudad Juárez. And in The Story of Vicente she paints a shattering portrait of that boomtown’s deadly violence and how it ruined the life of an ordinary boy.”
“Her book, like no other recent book written about Juárez, adds layers of understanding that make the reader appreciate the complexities of the problem, moving away from facile explanations and solutions advanced by government officials on both sides of the border.”
“Rodríguez paints a dismal portrait of a border city in distress. It’s a necessary portrait that government officials and other promoters of Juárez might prefer we not view or ponder.”