BlogBeat

Jesús Malverde, the Mexican Robin Hood?

Jesús Malverde, the Mexican Robin Hood?

By Juan Miret
A Hispanic Matter

Saintliness and crime. Can they occur together?

Not usually, but when it comes to Jesús Malverde, the rule is broken.

His image is found in popular altars – of course, without the approval of the Catholic Church. Worshippers, ranging from drug lords to poor farmers, have made his grave, located in the city of Culiacán in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, a sort of mecca for criminals and desperate people.

There is little historical data on Malverde, such that at times the line is blurred between reality and legend. That may be why nicknames like “Mexican Robin Hood,” “Angel of the Poor” and “Generous Bandit” convey more than any biographical information.

“It’s part of the traditions,” says Simón Navarro, owner of a natural products pharmacy in east Tulsa. “There are those who come looking for his image,” and others who seek more, given that there are products with the image of this “narco-saint” on items such as soap – for good luck.

According to Jungwon Park, author of an article about Malverde, he was a bandit in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Says Park: “There have been many legends that tell his life story and his miracles, but his story has been viewed by some as pure myth because of the lack of substantial evidence.”

“Despite the doubts, according to the most popular and accepted version, this Robin Hood with a Mexican accent, was born in Sinaloa in about 1870. At some point he became a thief, hiding in the mountains of Culiacán and robbing those who had the most that could be shared among the neediest, and who in exchange granted him the protection of their silence. But he was betrayed and executed in 1909.”

The supposed episodes of Malverde’s kindness and social struggle took place within the autocratic regime of Porfirio Díaz, who ruled the country from 1876 until 1911. That period, labeled by some historians as the “Porfirian peace,” was a stage of progress and modernity, but it was also the beginning of the gap between social classes: a lot of poor and a few rich, very rich.

Perhaps because of these accidents of history, Malverde grew in popularity.

According to James Creechan, sociologist and professor at the Autonomous University of Sinaloa, Malverde is considered the patron saint of drug traffickers.

“The drug guys go to the shrine and ask for assistance and come back in big cars and with stacks of money to give thanks,” he said in an interview with The New York Times in 2008.

Despite these ties and fervor among drug lords, the most needy who know of the existence of Malverde identify with his heritage. The poor exist in invisibility, between darkness and drug violence; to the government, they don’t exist – there is nothing to lose.

So, why not ask such a kindly saint who even likes the bad guys?

In this way, Malverde is a multicultural amalgam and infinitely merciful. He is not exclusive, but he is for everyone, especially for those who are marginalized.

It is hard to imagine that the Catholic Church will set up an altar for Malverde. But what is a certainty is that his devotees will continue asking, praying and paying promises.

It may be because of favors received, or for his great physical resemblance to Mexican actor and singer Pedro Infante, or the simple fact that there is nothing, absolutely nothing to lose.

Amen.

The Malverde ballads

The image of this “bad saint” is enlivened with typical tunes that are an ode to violence and drug trafficking: the so-called “narcorrido,” a sort of folk song deeply rooted in the border between Mexico and the United States. One of these songs says:

I will sing a corrido [ballad] of a true story,
about a generous bandit who robbed where he wanted.
Jesus Malverde was a man who helped the poor,
that’s why he was protected when the law was after him

Videos of ballads about Malverde

www.youtube.com/watch?v=AF3MaOIYw5M&feature=fvwrel
www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0JYnLAj75U&feature=related
www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NCOunxL3cQ&feature=related
www.youtube.com/watch?v=iw2M5MwCjaM&feature=related

Prayer to a Narco-Saint

Today before your cross I kneel
Oh, Malverde my Lord I ask for mercy and that you heal my pain
You who live in glory
And who are very close to God
Listen to the sufferings of this humble sinner
Oh! Miraculous Malverde
Oh! Malverde my Lord
grant me this favor and fill my soul with joy
Give me health, Lord
Give me rest
Give me well-being
And I will be happy

The picture card of Malverde says that after making a personal request one must pray three Lord’s Prayers and three Hail Marys. Lastly, one lights two candles.

Did you know?

In the television series CSI on the CBS network, an image of Malverde appeared in an episode broadcast in 2008.

An image of Malverde appears in the film “A Man Apart.”

There is a play, “Rider of Divine Providence,” written by Oscar Liera, which discusses Malverde’s alleged miracles.

Click to add a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

BlogBeat

More in BlogBeat

shutterstock_179954507

Latinos have always cared about the environment — Now it’s time to Act!

Latina ListaAugust 27, 2015
8601700700_077303313a_b

What Don Quixote has to say to Spain about today’s immigrant crisis

Latina ListaAugust 26, 2015
1_19_12_custom-79e08b49f17e3857541887107d9547acc4d26e17-s800-c15

Commentary: Let’s Treat Juveniles in Detention at Least as Well as Animals in Zoo

Latina ListaAugust 25, 2015
Father and sons reading on bed

Little kids with big vocabularies start school ready to learn

Latina ListaAugust 24, 2015
image 3

App lets users PIVOT the World of Preservation

Latina ListaAugust 20, 2015
wvp7tov5yabhmnldyqmj

Entrepreneur & Visionary Giving a Voice to Latinas in Tech

Latina ListaAugust 19, 2015
A privately owned taxi is driven past Havana's university September 13, 2010. Cuba will let more than 500,000 state employees go by next March and try to move most to non-state jobs in the biggest shift to the private sector since the 1960s, the official Cuban labor federation said on Monday. According to Communist party sources who have seen the detailed plan to "reorganize the labor force," Cuba expects to issue 250,000 new licenses for self-employment by the close of 2011, almost twice the current number, and create 200,000 other non-state jobs. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan (CUBA - Tags: SOCIETY TRANSPORT EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS POLITICS) - RTR2IAS5

Why American academics are building ties with Cuba

Latina ListaAugust 17, 2015
marketing-to-kids-2-1024x713

Campaign underway to ask food companies to advertise healthier foods and drinks to kids

Latina ListaAugust 13, 2015
71gQTHU5tFL

Book Review: Negras: Stories of Puerto Rican Slave Women

Latina ListaAugust 12, 2015