For those more familiar with Mexican popular culture, it is easy to identify him. The figure of a gentleman with a moustache, dressed in black trousers, a white shirt with a red or black handkerchief and wads of banknotes in his hands is much worshipped in this country. His real name is said to be Jesús Juárez Mazo, but he is now better known as Jesús Malverde.
Also called “the generous bandit” or “the angel of the poor”, he has earned a reputation for defending and helping the “indefensible” in the eyes of God, such as drug traffickers, prostitutes, etc. Growing up in Sinaloa, in the north of the country, he lived in extreme poverty with his family, suffering injustice and being punished by landowners. So when he grew up, he decided to take justice into his own hands.
The man would hide in the bushes – hence the origin of his nickname, “the green evil” – and rob the landowners and the wealthiest families in the region. With the loot, he would go down to the village and distribute the money among the neediest groups. Embodying the figure of a Mexican Robin Hood, his popularity began to grow when drug trafficking activity increased in Mexico, especially in Sinaloa. Today he is revered by a large number of people, especially those who feel most left behind by today’s society. Among them, immigrants recently attempting to cross the US-Mexico border.
The legend of Jesús Malverde
The Catholic Church never recognised Jesús Malverde as a saint, for obvious reasons. There are even those who doubt his real existence. But the truth is that his legend lives on and he even has his own shrine in the city of Culiacán. Every May 3rd, the anniversary of his death, hundreds of believers in the “saint of the narcos” fill the Malverde Chapel. They come from different parts of the country and abroad to ask or thank him for favours. It can be the humble worker, who begs to stay employed, or the upper class businessman, who comes due to a health problem or to help close a business deal.
His legend even made its way to the trial of Chapo Guzmán, one of the world’s most notorious drug traffickers. It is said that the figure of Jesús Malverde “appeared by surprise” on a metal cabinet, prior to the entrance of the courtroom of the trial held in New York, far from Mexico, between 2018 and 2019.
And, of course, the telenovela…
Being such an admired and popular figure, we were initially surprised that a soap opera had not yet been produced with this character. But upon further investigation, we were much relieved….
As it couldn’t be any different, Telemundo, the largest Spanish-speaking television channel in the United States, is in charge of bringing the story of Jesús Malverde to the big screen. The leading role will be played by Pedro Fernández, a well-known Mexican actor and singer.
The scheduled premiere date is 28 September this year. But if, like us, you can’t wait until then, you can warm up your engines with its official Instagram account, with trailers, quizzes and unpublished images.