After my posts on mennonites, the post I did on Jesus Malverde and Santa Muerte really rake in the hits. Apparently the reading public (meaning the few dozen readers out there that happen to google "Jesus Malverde" and make it to this site) must really dig religious guys that run drugs, saints that kill your enemies, and saints that get you into the US.
ANYWAY... I recently stumbled on to Argentine folk saint Gauchito Gil, a man separated from his lover when wrongly accused of a crime then, caught up in years of warfare, and finally tortured to death by the police. Read the story at the Argentine Folklore page. See pictures of his adoration at the Latinphoto.org page.
I was immediately struck by the similarities with Juan Soldado who, as historian Paul Vanderwood puts it, was a "confessed rapist murderer" in 1938. Faced with a mob of Tijuana citizens, the military opted to act out the sentence of Juan - death - in a public execution where the soldier was prodded to run (ley fuga) and was then gunned down. His grave, despite public shame, quickly became a site of worship and adoration as surely, the people now thought, he was wrongly accused and executed. By the All Saints Day of the same year his grave was a destination for adoration. He has since become the center of adoration for migrants and drug runners.
I can understand Juan Morales aka Juan Soldado becoming a center on which to focus the resentment of public insecurity as well as injustice during the reign of the PRI. And in Argentina, Gauchito Gil makes sense as well. I would really like to know if the popularity of GIL increased during the military regimes in Argentina. One doesn't think torture and Argentina without thinking of the 70s...and I would be curious if there was any correlation in the growth of worship of El Gauchito during the period.
Race 3: Shamrock 4 Miler
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