La nueva narco-religión

23 03 2009

In Culiacan, Sinaloa/ they land with much urgency/ A special operation with maximum power / in the compound of the DEA/ at the in the center of intelligence

They brought in a lieutenant and performed surgery on him/ He ended up looking just like Malverde / anyone would be fooled / Presidential secrets / That’s how the CIA works

A very astute man / he was the best police / and he visited the narcotraffickers just how he looked / They thought he was Malverde and offered up prayers to him.

The impostor asked them: Where do you move your shipments/ to protect your merchandise/ be it through Tijuana or Nogales/ And when they told him / He sent the police after them.

The dudes are astute and soon they realized what was going on / They caught that liar / at the other end of a machine gun / in the neighborhood of Las Quintas, there they evened the score.

The only thing left of the impostor/ are his remains up there on the hill / they say he doesn’t even have a tomb / the dogs gobbled him up / He wanted to pass for Malverde, but Malverde is not a game

This gory ballad is an example of the now infamous narcocorrido, but with a religious twist. The narcocorrido is a Mexican song celebrating the exploits of a drug-related outlaw or kingpin, and is a genre made famous by such popular groups as Los Tigres del Norte. In this one, faith also comes into play, as a rather strange fable is weaved of the government using the superstition of the drug traffickers to catch them in the act of illegal smuggling. The emergence of such “narcosantos” as Jesus Malverde and Santa Muerte is not an isolated incident in the popular Mexican religious consciousness, but is rather a sign of escalating violence in Mexican society, the growing importance of the drug trade, and the general decline of the rule of law.
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Jesus Malverde – otra vez

24 10 2008

Esto es para mi compadre en el cielo, Jesús Malverde. ¡Arriba Sinaloa, paisa!

Chuy Malverde

17 06 2008

These individuals will be made saints by the Vatican three years after hell freezes over.


-Jim Griffith, in an interview in the Tuscon Weekly

Jesus Malverde is a Mexican folk saint very much in the news. He is now supposedly the “patron saint” of drug smugglers, and his cult stretches all the way from California to Cali, Colombia. Many doubt that he actually existed, but if he did, he was probably a Robin Hood-like bandit executed by hanging in the twilight of the reign of Porfirio Diaz in 1909. His shrine is in Culiacan in the northern state of Sinaloa.  It is said that his first miracle was when a farmer looking for his lost head of cattle saw the bones of Malverde rotting on the tree and asked him to help him find his lost property. He found it soon afterward, and the legend was born.

Since Sinaloa, being a northern state, was a natural venue for the drug trade, people began to invoke Malverde for their various dealings, along with more conventional requests. They even wrote a corrido (ballad) for him that has been covered by many Mexican popular bands, like Los Cadetes de Linares:

A partial translation of the song:

It’s been good for me all year, that’s why I come to visit you. From Culiacan to Columbia, long live Jesus Malverde! This hung saint who has brought me good luck!

My image of you always has a candle burning in front of it in your honor, and I always carry your photo with me wherever I go, and especially in all my dealings, I always find your blessing.

While Malverde may not be a saint of my devotion, I don’t necessarily think that his cult is as horrible as some have made it out to be. It is certainly nowhere near as bad as the cult to “Most Holy Death”, and the circumstances are a little less bizarre than the cult of Juan Soldado in Tijuana which had my grandmother as a devotee. Besides, the poor guy can’t be blamed for the actions of those who pray to him, and many pray for his intercession in matters of health, job searches, and other things. He represents, in the end, the Mexican distrust of authority and the desperation of people who often do not have many options in life save prayer.