In the early 1990s the United States made an agreement with Canada and Mexico known as NAFTA or North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement. It was supposed to establish trade in which the Mexican common people would benefit as much as business owners and employees. Nothing, however, changed. The peasants realized the deal was a sham and began to demonstrate and protest against the role of government and big corporations and insisted on the institution of democracy and free rights for all Mexicans including the majority of peasants who were literally being starved to death in poverty wages. The military stepped up their vigilante behavior and began kidnapping protestors and peasants, who became known as victims or desaparecido or disappeared ones.
MIRADOR is about a revolution which was inspired by NAFTA as a way for the poorest indigenous people of the Chiapas Jungles of Mexico to attempt to stop the USA scooping up their property and their way of life. It only succeeded for a short period of time and now the USA is at it again – destroying people’s homeland and heritage – primarily for greed.
The novel opens with the mission trip a year before the uprising, and there are already signs that things are not quite what was promised. Borders with armed guards exist everywhere, their guide occasionally grew sullen explaining the situation to them, and the evidence of state police beating people in front of the crew before they even got to Mirador. Their guide gives them all (and by extension us) the background into the place, the poverty of its people, and the simmering anger that the tourists were unaware of. Because of the back and forth with the other tourists, as well as the asides that indicate he knows far more than he is telling them, this doesn’t feel like an info dump but an actual conversation. The jungles are beautifully described, and it is a vivid rendering that makes you feel as though you’re there in the stifling heat or floating down the river along with the characters.