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Archive: Latin American Folk Magic

Date: Sun, 7 Jul 2002 22:29:03 -0500
From: "E Bryant Holman" 
Subject: Narcotrafficantes, San Malverde, and the Anima de Leyva

When I was interviewing the curandera Paty, I wanted to find some things
out that I had been having trouble getting straight answers about from
other sources. I was surprised to find out that she knew more about
these matters than I ever dreamed!

Specifically, what I was wondering about is the manner in which the
narcotraficantes use witchcraft as a part of their business. When I
asked her about that, she replied that there was only one name that
one would need to mention to sum all of that up, which she then
waited for me to supply, and the name was Chuy Malverde. And when I
said that name, she quite visibly shuddered.

Jesus Malverde is famous enough that you can just do a search for
"Malverde" on the Internet and get plenty of information, but that
information is sorely lacking for my purposes. I am not all that
interested in what American journalists have had to say. Anyone, as
I said, can read that. I wanted to know more specific things, like
the spiritual dimensions as described by a curandera such as
herself, and the details of how this business operated right here in
Ojinaga, Chihuahua, one of the biggest drug smuggling points in the
entire world.

However, I think that her judgment that he was the only name that
one might mention is not really true, because there is another,
local "black saint" with connections to this world of
narco-brujeria, and there is also the matter of regular saints like
San Judas Tadeo, San Martin Caballero, San Ramon Nonato, and San
Martin de Porres being connected to this topic, all of which she
readily acknowledged, albeit that she stressed that the cult of "San
Malverde" has pretty much displaced most of all that.

The conversation moved pretty much, nevertheless, in the direction
of the local "folk saint", known as the "Anima de Leyva" [Soul or Sirit
of Leyva]. 

This person, Juanito Leyva, died in a gruesome manner when he was
burned alive under circumstances that are reported differently by
different persons. It is said that the only part of his body that
escaped being blackened and turned to ashes, charcoal, and singed
bones, was one finger, which was "miraculously" left pointing
upwards, in the "There is God" gesture: and it is said by those who
retell this tale, that the purpose of this is that his spirit (the
"anima") was communicating to all that he was innocent, "as God was
his witness". 

People tell the tale associated with him and then, intending on doing
the traditional "There is God" gesture, of holding the index finger
upwards with the palm out, they, rather, make the ancient "There is
John" sign, with the palm in, which was used extensively in the
artwork of Leonardo and other occult artists who are alleged to have
been members of a secret organization  with reported "Johnist"
antecedents known as the Priory of Sion. One reason why this
involuntary gesture that so many people seem to do seems so
remarkable - because in normal circumstances, they use the "There is
God" gesture, because the style of converstain that takes place here
frequently leads to such events - is that the "There is John" symbol
is a secret anti-Catholic sign, in fact. In a manner of speaking, it
is saying that Christ is not the Messiah, because John is, so that,
in effect it is "anti-Christ", to coin a phrase.

Actually, regarding Juanito Leyva, I believe the most accurate version
of events was that his compadre caught him in a very compromising
circumstance with his comadre (the guy's wife), and that is why he was
killed. It is said that he was a bad person, in any event.

His family, I assume it was, built a chapel for his remains, and it
is still there, albeit part of the roof has fallen in. There are
still milagros hanging there that pilgrims completing mandas have
left, and prayers, and notes of thanks for miracles performed.

However, in terms of what I wanted to know from Paty, there is no
physical evidence left. What I wanted to hear about was how the
persons who formerly dominated the drug trade here - Pablo Acosta
and Amado Carrillo - had prayed to the Anima de Leyva to help them
in their business.

What Paty told me made sense. This chapel actually had a sort of
rector at one time - a bruja who was in the service of the narcos (I
didn't ask her name). Amado and Pablo were not just going there to
the chapel on their own, they were doing all of this under the
instruction of this person, who had a powerful "don", or gift of
spiritual powers, which allowed her, I assume, to channel the spirit
of the Anima de Leyva to act as a go-between with even more powerful
spirits, which "opened paths" for her clients and closed them for
their enemies. 

Thus, even though the pistoleros of Pablo's enemies, the people of his
arch-rival, Fermin Arevalo, were constantly ambushing them, Pablo and
his own pistoleros, the feared Marco de Haro and Pablo's Brother, "El
Berrendo", always walked away unscathed, while their attackers died in
pools of blood or fled in terror for parts unknown, and Pablo's loads of
drugs made it to Chicago and Denver and everywhere else, while his
network of corrupt officials never turned on him or failed him.

Eventually, however, his world began to crumble, and he died in a
gruesome hail of automatic weapons fire at the hands of government
commandos who rappelled down from a helicopter at his desert hideout
and fired off an estimated 2,000 rounds in a few short seconds into
the two room adobe shack, killing all of the occupants.

The bruja who was the medium of the Anima de Leyva later died, in a
manner typical of brujas. They always rot, in one way or another,
usually either by gangrene, boils, or intestinal ailments, in a
manner that generates a lot of stench. 

In this case, the woman managed to generate a condition similar to a
massive burn, on her leg, due to a home remedy that she was receiving or
administering herself involving rubbing her leg with vinegar. This
condition was very painful, and I assume it was causing some sort of
blood poison, because the woman was gravely ill. So, she sent for Paty,
and a car would go out to San Pancho, outside of town, and take her to
the woman's house, and bring her back home later. The woman was
recovering nicely, when suddenly the woman's daughter interferred, at
the behest of another curandera, who insisted that Paty's treatment
not be continued, but that another one be followed, and as a result
of that, the woman died.

The motives of this curandera, actually, were to kill the first bruja in
order to take her "don", and to get rich from that, catering to rich
narcos. However, likely due to Paty's intervention, I suspect, she did
not get the "don", but rather, she got the illness, and she has been
quite miserable ever since. 

Her solution has been to try and get Paty to cure her, but, rather than
being faced with a situation of having to either do so or to refuse,
Paty has found another solution. She says that it is impossible for that
woman to arrive in Paty's presence. Every time she comes down from
Midland, Texas, where she lives, Paty is off in town. She will never see
her face to face again.


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