From Enrique Serna’s viewpoint, rascals are more lovable than those who have led exemplary lives.
The author of 14 books, Serna has written in a variety of genres — short stories, essays, futuristic fiction and an erotic novel. The only one of his books translated into English is “Fear of Animals,” a thriller and a satire of the Mexican literary world.
Serna, who lives in Cuernavaca, Mexico, was in Odessa this week to donate five of his books to the University of Texas of the Permian Basin library and speak to students.
Assistant Professor of Spanish Jose Antonio Moreno brought Serna to town.
His bestseller in Mexico is “El Seductor de la Patria,” a historic novel about Antonio López de Santa Anna, who was the Mexican general that fought against the Texans and defeated them at the Alamo.
Santa Anna was later taken prisoner by Gen. Sam Houston during the Texan War for Independence.
“He’s a character demonized by the official Mexican history,” Serna said. “I wrote this novel because I think that the life of our rascals like Santa Anna can show us more about human condition than an exemplary life.”
Serna said he was planning to write a television series for Televisa based on Santa Anna’s life. A group of researchers found many documents on the Mexican general’s life, but the producer of the TV series called the project off.
He had all this research, so he decided to take advantage and write “El Seductor de la Patria,” published in 1999. Serna added that he wanted to tell the story with respect and a humoristic point of view.
The book was a bestseller in Mexico used at high schools, universities and law schools.
In researching the book, Serna said many things amazed him and he found that penning it as a novel gave him more freedom to put in historical facts that might have been left out of other books.
“The thing that most surprised me was that Mexican society, even if they know that he was corrupt and opportunistic, they asked him many times to come back to the presidency because this society thought it didn’t deserve something better. What I discovered when I was writing this novel was the self deprecation of our society. This is a cancer of our social conscience that hasn’t been (healed),” Serna said.
“Nowadays, we have a party like the Institutional Revolutionary Party, PRI, that keeps controlling the masses following the same tactics employed by Santana. This party has been in power almost 100 years, almost a century. Its domination is the main cause of our economic and political problems,” he added.
Vincente Fox was elected as a member of the National Action Party (PAN) and the first president of the democratic era, but Serna said he didn’t change the structure of power he inherited from PRI.
“… Things remain the same way because he made a big mistake. He gave a lot of power to many governors that were colluding with the organized crime. They own all the police (and) the army. This is the worst problem the new president of Mexico will have to deal with,” he said.
Legalizing drugs, big political change and honest politicians are the only things that can undo the current situation, he said.
Serna added that the current justice system is “rotten.”
“The drug gangs have great power because they can bribe all the authorities. If they were not so rich, maybe we could stop this criminality in Mexico,” he said.
Library Director Howard Marks said he’s glad to add Serna’s books to the collection because they add diversity. Marks also got to meet Serna.
“He has a refreshing spirit,” Marks said.
Author Enrique Serna poses with his bestselling book ‘El Seductor de la Patria’ Monday with UTPB Assistant Professor of Spanish Jose Antonio Moreno.
By Ruth Campbell