17 years have passed since Mexico lived one of its most controversial political and judicial episodes with the case of the French getaway to florence and the mexican Israel Vallartaboth accused of carrying out kidnappings. The writer and journalist Jorge Volpi transformed this remembered case into A criminal novel, a book that won the Alfaguara Prize in 2018 and that now reaches the small screen thanks to Netflix with the recently released documentary Cassez-Vallarta: A Crime Novel.
What was it that attracted the writer to this story? As he told in an interview with Infobae, Volpi maintained that the main reason was that it was “a good story”: “There is a love story between these two characters, a police plot, a political plot, and there is a conspiracy behind all. So the first thing was to try to tell this story well. And the second thing that ended up attracting me is that it also became a portrait of Mexico in the last 12 or 13 years. In a portrait through the Justice system and a Justice that does not work or does not work”.
In the text of a crime novelVolpi refreshed the case by resuming the original investigations of the facts and looked for more voices that are now also reflected in the documentary series, such as the former president of Mexico Felipe Calderon and the former president of France Nicholas Sarkozywho recount their position during the case.
In the line of Cold-bloodedof truman cloak, the hangman’s songof norman maileither Limonovof Emmanuel CarrèreVolpi took up the Cassez-Vallarta case, as the adventures of the couple made up of a Mexican and a French woman who, on December 9, 2007, were detained in a house on the outskirts of Mexico City, are known. accused of leading the gang Los Zodiacoin an operation that culminated, at the same time, with the release of three people who were allegedly being held hostage.
“It is a non-fiction novel, a strange genre, a hybrid between literature and journalism that addresses a criminal matter that shocked Mexico and France. It is one of the largest police set-ups in the history of Mexico, with very shocking issues, including the direct confrontation between the presidents that ended with her release and keeps him in jail”, Volpi pointed out in 2018 when he won the Alfaguara Prize and tell how he had thought the text.
The arrest of Israel Vallarta and Florence Cassez occurred in the midst of a resounding operation that ended up being a setup: The Mexican authorities themselves acknowledged that the arrest had occurred the day before, but that the act was recreated a posteriori so that the TV channels could record it.
This simulation unleashed a controversy between the victims of the kidnappings allegedly committed by Los Zodíaco – for whom it was a recreation that did not alter the substance of the matter – and the lawyers of the accused, who have maintained since then that the process was supported by evidence. false and contradictory testimonies.
Cassez, who is currently 43, was sentenced to 60 years in prison for kidnapping.although she was released in January 2013 after the Supreme Court ruled that she did not enjoy due process. Her ex-boyfriend, on the other hand, is still imprisoned without having been tried at the moment.
Recovered several times through documentaries and investigative texts, Volpi chose a hybrid format to do justice to the facts, from a literary perspective that gets into the interstices of a judicial file that accumulates more than ten thousand pages. That same conception was transferred to the documentary series with the production of paul cross and the script of Alexander Gerberwho gave narrative structure to the five episodes that will review the case.
Volpi, Cruz and Gerber point out that from a neutral point of view they adhered to the testimonies of those involved to offer a broad overview of the Cassez-Vallarta case, and although at the time the main person named, Israel Vallarta, gave interviews for the documentary , it was impossible to achieve a new meeting with the accused: “The series tells the story of the impossibility of reaching Israel Vallarta, of how the judicial system itself does not allow the main accused in this story, who has not been tried, who does not He has a sentence and on whom we know any number of machinations were made, he is not allowed to speak. They have not allowed us to listen to the full version of Israel Vallarta, it is perhaps the only moment of ‘censorship’ that this series hadGerber agrees.
“It is a fairly large documentary in terms of the dimension of what it covers, because there are two countries involved, because we are used to seeing the approach of one country, of a moment, here it is France and Mexico, the two points of view of a case which is still controversial to this day, where there are still people who are being prosecuted or not for this case, ”Cruz said during the launch and said that they filmed for three months on Gallic soil.
The creators accepted that the documentary will surely generate new discussions about the case, considering that taking up this story also reflects the current problems in Mexico: the change in power of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the National Action Party (PAN), the beginning of the war against drug trafficking in the mandate of Felipe Calderon and how in each historical period the case revives in the light of the situation.