Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Jesus Malverde, Narco Patron Saint

Thursday, May 5, 2011 |

On this date in 1909, a Mexican bandit was executed by the police. Maybe. Unusually for these pages, the date is quite certain but the existence of the executed man is not.

If he existed — and this caveat is standard in practically every profile of the fascinating cultural phenomenon fathered by the man or phantom — Jesus Malverde was a Robin Hood-esque “social bandit” who preyed on Mexico’s plutocratic agricultural lords and distributed the spoils to the poor.

According to Patricia Price (“Bandits and Saints: Jesus Malverde and the Struggle for Place in Sinaloa, Mexico”, Cultural Geographies 2005; 12; 175), the Malverde of legend entered the world as Jesus Juarez Mazo, but his own parents died of hunger or a curable illness, and that this was the catalyst for his turn to a life of crime.

While Malverde was said to have worked variously on the railroads, as a carpenter, or as a tailor, he soon joined the ranks of bandits that roamed Mexico’s countryside at the end of the nineteenth century. He reportedly stole gold coins from the rich hacienda owners living in Culiacan and threw them in the doorways of the poor at night.

Truly a figure who, if he did not exist, it were necessary to invent.

All the particulars about his legendary exploits are a bit fuzzy, right down to his end on May 3, 1909 — possibly gunned down, possibly left to die of exposure with his feet hacked off, or possibly (and certainly more picturesquely) summarily hanged from a mesquite tree by a posse.

(In a version that appealingly combines these threads, he’s said to have been dying of gangrene after being shot, and in a last act of charity prevailed upon his friend to bring in his body to collect the reward. The police gibbeted his corpse.)

In the years since, Malverde has become a popular divine intercessor for the marginal social classes who could identify with such a figure, like Sinaloa’s poor farmers of corn and beans.

And other cash crops.

Malverde is also the patron saint — decidedly unofficial, of course — of the region’s robust narcotics trade.

His shrine stationed across the way from a government compound in Sinaloa’s capital city draws a bustle of devotees.* Offerings like produce and shrimp share space with icons of marijuana and AK-47s, and votive notes appreciating “how things turned out, and how nobody was grabbed.”

The underworld angle may draw the gawking Yankees, but Jesus Malverde — man, legend, shrine, all — is a genuine civic institution who meets a genuine need for solace not unlike his very namesake. In the words of a researcher quoted by Price, Malverde draws the poorest, the handicapped, pickpockets, thugs, prostitutes, drug traffickers and drug addicts, in sum, the stigmatized who, in civil or religious iconography don’t find anyone who looks like them, in whom to confide and in whose hands to put their lives.

Source: executedtoday.com

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21 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...

Texcoco Mex said.

This is all BS I was born and raised in Mexico and this Malverde doesn't exist. Malverde was created by drug traffickers and is all BS real BIG BS. This way of thinking is getting a lot of people killed.

Anonymous said...

The Mexican government needs to go to these shrines and smash them. These people want peace and at this same time pray to a "saint" that promotes these cartels. The Mexican people can not have it both ways.

Anonymous said...

Texcoco Mex said

Estas son mamadas de la gente. Yo naci creci y estudie en Mexico y nunca escuche de este guey.
Pero logico hoy en dia con tanto crimen los criminales tambien quieren su propio santo, alrato lo van a convertir en Dios, y despues van a sacar a la Virgen Malverde.

Yo pienso tal y como lo dijo el Gen. Carlos Bibiano Villa Castillo, matemos a todos y en el cielo que Dios separe a los buenos de los malos. Si los dejamos vivos los Jueses de mierda los ponen en libertad otra vez.

Que viva Calderon y todos los funcionarios no coruptos.

Mexfiles said...

!In a version that appealingly combines these threads, he’s said to have been dying of gangrene after being shot, and in a last act of charity prevailed upon his friend to bring in his body to collect the reward. The police gibbeted his corpse."

That sounds more like the legends about the very historical Heraclio Bernal, who was killed by Mexican troops in 1888. Either your source mixed-up the historical Sinaloan social bandit with the legendary one, or the legends surrounding Bernal's death have been grafted onto the later Jesus Malverde legend.

Anonymous said...

Texcoco Mex said.

This is all BS I was born and raised in Mexico and I never knew anything about this Malverde and there is nothing in history about this MF. Of course now in this days with all the crime in Mexico this criminals want to have their own Saint and they ask him to protect all criminals from the police.

I agree with Gen. Carlos Bibiano Villa Castillo we should killed all criminals...in heaven GOD will separate the good ones from the bad ones.

Anonymous said...

I understand ,people who feel helpless,no future create myths ti inspire them,give them hope,kind of like buying lottery tickets. In Mexico the Guvt has failed to inspire anybody,the public ideally would support the COPS NOT THE ROBBERS.If reforms are completed then someday the people in Mexico can relate to their govt as being THEIR govt.

Anonymous said...

Santa? I thought it should read Santo... oh well that's Mx for you..... hahahaha

Anonymous said...

This was the funniest part of the earler post:

"Pero logico hoy en dia con tanto crimen los criminales tambien quieren su propio santo, alrato lo van a convertir en Dios, y despues van a sacar a la Virgen Malverde."

"but today's logic with all the crime, the criminals also want their own saint. Pretty soon they'll be converting to God, and then they're going to be coming out with [their own] virgin, (la Virgen Malverde)."

Of course all of this has to do with rationalizing your bad behavior so instead of doing something you shouldn't be doing, it is actually "justo y necesario" and you're really a great person, the amable little narco that you are.

Anonymous said...

THIS IS ONE REASON WHY MEXICO IS GOING THROUGH SO MUCH TURMOIL....THEY WORSHIP FALSE IDOLS......ALL THEIR SO CALLED "SAINTS" WON'T HELP THEM....THE ONLY WAY TO SALVATION IS THROUGH JESUS CHRIST!!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm thinkin' it may not be the best use of someone's time to ask for protection from a ghost whose main distinction in life was to be hung by the neck until dead after having both his feet cut off. The narcos love their Robin Hood fairy tales.

porno said...

@10:20 aren't the familia michoacana evangelicals? where was jesus when they slaughter,extort and kill? i believe in jesus but, you evangelicals are hypocrites.

Anonymous said...

por malverde i bet you right now he is thinking what a bunch of dummies who worship me he probably would have killed narcos he stole from the rich you guys steal from the poor sealing drugs to the poor

Anonymous said...

May 5, 2011 10:20 AM : Catholics have a medieval belief in a heavenly bureaucracy. If you want something done, you don't contact the CEO for every reason. You contact a particular underling.

That is the belief that started in the middle ages

Anonymous said...

Maybe the way to mess up the cartels is to humiliate them

Tell all the American teenagers about what they support when they buy crack, maybe they will reconsider it

Show narcovideos to all of your high school friends, your parents, and your grandparents

Make youtube reaction videos where you call the cartels a bunch of pussies (wear halloween masks and disguise your voice with software) - Post it on YouTube, Dailymotion, Metacafe, everywhere

Anonymous said...

bunch of retards paying homage to this idiot, no other words to describe it..might as well idol the devil while they are at it..i am mexican, but this is bullshit...enough tolerance I have with the national religion to be hearing this crap

DFL said...

How Ridiculous?
What a bunch of dumbasses worhshiping that stupid funny looking statue. LOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!!!
Fucking retards.

DFL said...

P.S

These are the very same people that will travel to a town to go worhship and confess to a mildew stain, a tree stump or a burnt tortilla whose image of Jesus or the virgin Mary appeared on.
Praying to a Narco saint is so stupid , it just makes you want to laugh. Its really funny. What Normal person thinks that way- none!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow! No wonder it was so easy for the conquistadors to take over the Aztec empire! These people have the same mentality nothing has changed!

Anonymous said...

U bs mslverde real

Anonymous said...

Dont talk shit about malverde everyone has there own belief okay. I pray first to god and to virgin mary and malverde okay so dont say " god is going to punish you cause you pray to malverde" I love god and my saints .

Anonymous said...

everyone believes in what they want no one has the rigt to judge and no one has the right to say others believes are BS to anyone HYPOKRITS!

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