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Horror Story

Lydia Cacho Ribeiro's book about child sex abuse,
Lydia Cacho Ribeiro's book about child sex abuse, "Demons in Eden," didn't sell well -- until politicians' alleged involvement in her 2005 arrest caused an uproar in Mexico. (By Nikki Kahn -- The Washington Post)

Saldaña, taking no chances, was waiting when Cacho arrived at the jail in Puebla, a picturesque city east of Mexico City famed for its rich, chili-infused molé. Shescrambled to arrange bail. But even the presence of a fired-up Mexican senator could not save Cacho from a humiliating strip search while a clutch of male officers loitered on the other side of a thin plastic curtain.

After nearly half a day in jail, Cacho was free on bond, though rattled. She was soon to find out how highly placed her enemies were.

Anonymous Voices

Two months later, tapes started airing on Mexican radio stations, crude male voices spewing obscenities out of car speakers in Mexico City's perpetual traffic jam and everywhere else in the country. It was clear the men were talking about Lydia Cacho. The tapes had been delivered anonymously to Mexico City newspaper and broadcast reporters, but no one knows who made the recordings .

In one conversation, presumably recorded the day of Cacho's arrest, an unidentified voice tells Nacif to pay "a woman in the jail to rape her."

"No, no, no," Nacif responds, "I've already given the order. . . . She's with the crazies and the lesbians."

But the real blockbuster was on another tape.

"My precious governor," Nacif can be heard saying.

"My hero," another voice says.

That second voice was unmistakable. It was Puebla Gov. Mario Marín, a stalwart of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which dominated Mexico in authoritarian style for seven decades before losing its grip on the presidency in 2000.

"Well, yesterday, I gave a [expletive] whack on the head to that old bitch," Marín tells Nacif.

Nacif thanks his "precious governor" for ordering Cacho's arrest and says he will send Marín "a beautiful bottle of cognac."

Marín acknowledged to the press that the voice was his, but he said the recordings were taken out of context. His rebuttal had almost no impact. In the court of public opinion, the verdict was clear: Cacho was the victim of influence peddling and a political vendetta.

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