La Profesora Abstraída

Weblog of Michelle Dion, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, at McMaster University. My blog has moved to Visit my other website.

Monday, May 02, 2005

The patron saint of Narcotraffickers...

In today's La Jornada, there's an interesting story about an informal tour of narcotraficantes that has sprung up in Sinaloa. Narcotraficantes are drug lords and traffickers.

According to the story, you can visit a small temple with a shrine to the patron saint of drug traffickers, Bandido "Generoso" Jesús Malverd. He was known for giving money back to the community. He's been worshipped as a saint for over 130 years.

Image of patron saint in chapel in Sinaloa from La Jornada.

According to the story, in Culiacan the capital of Sinaloa, there is 1 car per every 4.5 inhabitants, while the national average is 1 car per 15. There are car dealers for Lincoln, Volvo, Toyota, Cadillac, and Hummer. According to one of the salesmen, it's only by reputation that the cars are bought with drug money. Though he did admit that many paid with cash.

The story also talks about lavish homes with murals, columns, and all sorts of gaudy decoration. And many people walk about with a lot of diamonds and other ostentatious jewelry.

Drug trafficking began in Sinaloa at the beginning of the 20th century. According to the article, this was due to its proximity to the US, a country that prohibits many illicit substances. In the 1950s, wars between rivals were so common that Culiacan became known as a "Chicago con gangsters de huarache." (Huaraches are traditional peasant sandals.)

One of the other interesting aspects of the drug trafficking culture is the music, which is not mentioned in the article. Narcocorridos are songs that tell the high tales of drug smuggling. They also have a long history. During the Mexican Revolution (1910-1917) corridos were songs that told stories related to the Revolution and its heros. The narcocorridos glamourize (mostly) the lives of drug runners. The most famous group is Los Tigres del Norte. They have an extensive discography. Below is an excerpt of one of my favorite Tigres songs, "Pacas de un Kilo"

In it, the singer mentions that he's of a modest height, has a significant farm, and warns listeners that if they meet him, don't be surprised if he doesn't tell you his last names. You can find discs of Tigres hits online at Amazon. There's also an interesting book about narcocorridos written by a guy who hitched rides with truckdrivers along the border. You can also listen to an NPR story about the group.

That's your bit of Mexican cultural history for the month.

posted by Michelle @ 11:18 AM,


At 5/03/2005 9:30 PM, Blogger roger said...

There's an excellent book about the 90s cocaine "Lord of the Skies," Amado Carillo Fuentes, in Juarez by Charles Bowden entitled 'Down by the River". I reviewed it for the Christian Science Monitor, here: Bowden also did a photo book on the Juarez murders that is brutal and brilliant. The guy is the toughest American reporter on the border scene, from which, he has told me, he's retiring -- too much death.

At 5/04/2005 9:55 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Thanks. I will look for that. Sounds interesting.


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