Fernanda Melchor’s Gritty Dispatches from Veracruz

By Daniel Rey

In a darkly humorous collection of stories and “crónicas,” the Mexican writer channels life in this chaotic port city.

This article is adapted from AQ’s special report on Lula and Latin America When Paco arrives at the waterfront for his shift, his supervisor tells him to expect an uneventful evening. He and his co-workers are enduring the cold January wind, talking about “women, football, strategies to win the lottery, politics, religion, and back to women again,” when Paco sees nine spectral figures running towards him. Barefoot, “young, skinny yet strong, sinewy,” they stink of diesel and salt water, and are “soaked to the bone, with their arms and legs covered in welts that looked like...

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