Descripción de editorial
For decades, American hungers sustained Tijuana. In this scientific detective story, a public health expert reveals what happens when a border city's lifeline is brutally severed.
Despite its reputation as a carnival of vice, Tijuana was, until recently, no more or less violent than neighboring San Diego, its sister city across the border wall. But then something changed. Over the past ten years, Mexico's third-largest city became one of the world's most dangerous. Tijuana's murder rate skyrocketed and produced a staggering number of female victims. Hundreds of women are now found dead in the city each year, or bound and mutilated along the highway that lines the Baja coast.
When Dan Werb began to study these murders in 2013, rather than viewing them in isolation, he discovered that they could only be understood as one symptom among many. Environmental toxins, drug overdoses, HIV transmission: all were killing women at overwhelming rates. As an epidemiologist, trained to track epidemics by mining data, Werb sensed the presence of a deeper contagion targeting Tijuana's women. Not a virus, but some awful wrong buried in the city's social order, cutting down its most vulnerable inhabitants from multiple directions.
Werb's search for the ultimate causes of Tijuana's femicide casts new light on immigration, human trafficking, addiction, and the true cost of American empire-building. It leads Werb all the way from factory slums to drug dens to the corridors of police corruption, as he follows a thread that ultimately leads to a surprising turn back over the border, looking northward.
"City of Omens is a compelling and disturbing tour of a border world that outsiders rarely see - and simultaneously, a clear guide to a field of public health that offers an essential framework for understanding how both ideas and diseases can spread." -- MAIA SZALAVITZ, author of Unbroken Brain
"Dan Werb combines his expertise as a trained epidemiologist with his keen discernment as an investigative journalist to depict what happens when poverty, human desperation, and unfathomable greed at the highest levels of a society mix with imperial ambition and a criminally ill-conceived policy towards drug use. It is a riveting and heartbreaking story, told with eloquence and compassion." -- GABOR MATÉ, MD, bestselling author of In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
"City of Omens is an urgent and needed account of a desperate problem. The perils that Mexico's women face haunt the conscience of a nation." -- ALFREDO CORCHADO, author of Homelands and Midnight in Mexico
In this somewhat academic study, epidemiologist Werb investigates the massive rise in the murder rate for women in Tijuana beginning circa 2010, seeking the "pathogen" that could be causing it. Originally sent to Tijuana to study HIV, Werb quickly became aware that intravenous drug use and sex work were contributing to both the transmission of the virus and the increase in murders. He applied the precision-oriented tools of his trade to the nefarious practices of both the drug cartels and the Tijuana police. Werb learned that thousands of women migrate to the city each year seeking work at one of its many factories, then find themselves ensnared in the city's underworld; those who seek help from the police or a way out of heroin addiction through the methadone clinics often end up even more entangled. Werb's reportage is diligent; he speaks to sex workers, their customers, police officers, and fellow epidemiologists. Although his scientific language and deep dives into epidemiological practices make certain passages opaque, Werb shines a light on an outbreak of brutal crimes against Tijuana's most vulnerable population. This is a well-researched, pressing study relevant to a wide audience.