On March 10, 1920, in Pachuca, Mexico, the United States Smelting, Refining and
Mining Company—the largest employer in the region, and known simply as the
Company—may have been guilty of murder.
The alert was first raised at six in the morning: a fire was tearing through the El
Bordo mine. After a short evacuation, the mouths of the shafts were sealed.
Company representatives hastened to assert that “no more than ten” men remained
in the shafts at the time of their closure, and Company doctors hastened to
proclaim them dead. The El Bordo stayed shut for six days.
When the mine was opened there was a sea of charred bodies—men who had made it as far as the exit, only to find it shut. The final death toll was not ten, but
eighty-seven. And there were seven survivors.
Now, a century later, acclaimed novelist Yuri Herrera has carefully reconstructed a
workers’ tragedy at once globally resonant and deeply personal: Pachuca is his
hometown. His sensitive and deeply humanizing work is an act of restitution for
the victims and their families, bringing his full force of evocation to bear on
the injustices that suffocated this horrific event into silence.