- 2012elections - 9/11 Special Coverage - aca - africanamericanalzheimers - aids - Alabama News Network - american - Awards & Expo - bees - bilingual - border - californiaeducation - Caribbean - cir - citizenship - climatechange - collgeinmiami - community - democrats - ecotourism - Elders - Election 2012 - elections2012 - escuelas - Ethnic Media in the News - Ethnicities - Events - Eye on Egypt - Fellowships - food - Foreclosures - Growing Up Poor in the Bay Area - Health Care Reform - healthyhungerfreekids - howtodie - humiliating - immigrants - Inside the Shadow Economy - kimjongun - Latin America - Law & Justice - Living - Media - memphismediaroundtable - Multimedia - NAM en Espaol - Politics & Governance - Religion - Richmond Pulse - Science & Technology - Sports - The Movement to Expand Health Care Access - Video - Voter Suppression - War & Conflict - 攔截盤查政策 - Top Stories - Immigration - Health - Economy - Education - Environment - Ethnic Media Headlines - International Affairs - NAM en Español - Occupy Protests - Youth Culture - Collaborative Reporting

The Saint of Drug Cartels

La Voz de San Diego, News Report, Alejandro Maciel, Translated by Elena Shore Posted: May 13, 2009

Traduccin al espaol

Editors Note: On March 24, 2009 Mexican authorities dismantled 30 capillas dedicated to Santa Muerte in Nuevo Laredo and Tijuana in response to their strong association with drug trafficking and at the request of local residents. But observers say dismantling the shrine of the so-called narco-saint isnt going to diminish crime.

In the darkness and silence of the early morning, as stealthily as possible, authorities approached the heavy machinery and, as soon as they got the order, turned on the engines. Within minutes, they had destroyed the altars built in honor of Jesus Malverde and the Santa Muerte (Saint of Death), who is beloved primarily by drug cartels, according to Mexican authorities.

The same thing happened in Tamaulipas, Mexico City and Tijuana. Mexican authorities say the destruction of these altars is part of the Mexican states fight against drug trafficking.

With these actions, Mexican authorities hope to weaken the drug cartels -- at least spiritually -- since despite its so-called war on drugs, the Mexican government has been unable to diminish drug trafficking.

Mexican Robin Hood?

Jess Malverde was something like the Mexican version of Robin Hood, or Chucho El Roto, who stole from the rich to give to the poor.

Malverde was on the most wanted list of the Porfirio Daz government (1877-1911), after the governor of Sinaloa, Caedo Francisco, offered a reward for his capture.

They say that when Malverde was ill and dying, he asked his friend to turn him in. Malverde made him promise to give the reward money for charity. However, the friend did not keep his promise, and neither he nor the money were heard from again.

After his execution on May 3, 1909, it was forbidden to bury him. They say he remained hanging from a tree until the rope broke, and his remains fell to the ground.

The residents of Culiacn began to cover up Malverdes body with stones until, little by little, they gradually formed a shrine.

His relationship with the drug cartels began in 1970, when Raymundo Escalante, son of gangster Julio Escalante, asked for Malverdes help in keeping his own fathers hit men from killing him.

Thus was born "el Santo de los narcos" (the saint of drug dealers) a saint who began to be adored by personalities like known drug traffickers Rafael Caro Quintero and Amado Carrillo Fuentes. By the 80s, faith in Malverde grew despite criticism by the Catholic Church, which questioned the bandits existence and alleged miracles.

According to Mexican researcher Luis A. Astorga, Malverde is part of popular mythology the case of a person, like many in Mexico, who confronted authority. It shouldnt be confused his life and death took place long before drug trafficking.

The saint of the poor

Jess Malverde is venerated by immigrants and poor people who celebrate him on the third day of every month, especially May 3. Each believer offers dollars, pesos, bottles of Tequila, clothing, candles and songs: I leave my soul in your hands, your miracle is generous thank you for what you have given me and for being so miraculous.

Others place at his altar little classified ads: Seeking an assistant for an opal mine. Call phone number X. Messages, no doubt, that are read by drug traffickers looking for illicit activities.

Some gangs visit the altar to thank Malverde for helping them smuggle drugs into the United States.

The Jesus Malverde Chapel in Culiacn has become a must-see destination. On the walls are plaques, full of all kinds of spelling errors, that thank Malverde for miracles. There are pictures everywhere of people who need help from the saint, and dollars pasted onto the walls, since he is also responsible for watching over undocumented immigrants attempting to cross the border.

In the center of the chapel is a bust of Jess Malverde, surrounded by bouquets of flowers.

Jesus Manuel Gonzalez, who is in charge of the chapel, acknowledges that the sculpture doesnt represent what Malverde actually looked like, since there were no pictures to help in the creation of the sculpture. The artist who designed it incorporated the features of Pedro Infante and Jorge Negrete, which Jesus Manuel Gonzalez considers to be an important factor in peoples identification with the image of Malverde.

Page 1 of 1




Just Posted

NAM Coverage