Skip to content


26 July 2019

It’s a clumsy word, but one we don’t have in English… roughly “social and ecological management”… but one I ran across (and expect was made up) for a new model for environmental protection.

IPN (the national politechnical university) is working to preserve the last major wetland in the Valle de México, Laguna de Tecocomulco.  The “social” part is that it could become a revenue source if developed as a recreational center within the greater Metropolitan Mexico City area. The ecological part is easy to figure out… and, as for development, besides being the feeder to several aquifers in the region, it’s becoming clearer every day that that 500 years of “development” that sought to drain the naturally damp valle has economic consequences:  nobody wants to buy apartments in buildings that are sinking as the water table drops, nor to invest in regions where the sewers can no longer handle the runoff, nor does anyone really want invest in a region where the people are cleaning up floods when they’re not choking on carbon monoxide.

So… we need our lagoons.

The big threat is a surprising one… water lilies.  Although native to Veracuz and Tabasco state, both as “feral” ornamentals, and thanks to climate change, water lilies have been choking off the lagoon, turning what was a clear body of water into a swamp (hardly conducive to recreational activities) and requiring intervention.  The rater creative solution is aphids.  They love to eat water lilies, don’t live very long, and … this is a bit off the charts… make aphid farms a tourist attraction.  I have a little trouble seeing the viability of that, though I suppose there are stranger ways of capitalizing organic products… hey, ants eat aphids and ants eggs are Mexican caviar.  Where are the foodies and hipsters on this?

Jornada, “El IPN recupera el último humedal del Valle de México” (26 July 2019)

Iturbide and the new republic

24 July 2019

Maybe this post should have been entitled “Chronicle of a chronicle foretold”… after so many fits and starts (and a few bumps in the road… one of which ended up costing me a leg)… I am back to revising my 2008 Gods, Gachupines and Gringos.

Besides the first editor having died, and the publishing business he founded long gone, I’ve been reluctant to work on it, mostly out of a realization that “serious” History (the capital H kind of history) isn’t much published outside academia, and I am not an academic.  That, and, from my own not all that happy experience trying to keep he small publishing business going, one either has to find a niche of a niche of a niche publisher for a book like this, or self-publish:  becoming writer, editor, book designer, printer, and marketer… or pay someone to do all that.  Not seeing my role as anything more than a writer willing to work with a good editor, …  attacking the mass of files, documents, revisions, and loose notes (not to speak of links that were lost when I changed computers a few years back) is enough to handle.  I’d prefer a well-designed book, and — of course — would like to make it known that the book is available, those are extras.  For now, I’ll be publishing draft excerpts here (I haven’t found the editor I need yet) and when there is a full section suitable for a small ebook, and/or POD, I’ll release that.   My original intention was to make the book “student friendly” (i.e., cheap!) anyway.  Which doesn’t mean you have to be, and it’d be appreciated if users kicked in something. 

Of all the anti-colonial independence movements in the Americas, Mexico’s had changed the most dramatically. The United States, Haiti, the countries in the south, all benefited from a leadership, or leader, who had steered the movement from the beginning. George Washington, Simón Bolivar ad José de San Martín were all military professionals or had military training, whereas the Mexican independence movement had lost its military professionals (like Allende) early in the struggle, and those professions at the end of the struggle, like Iturbide and Santa Anna were won over only after negotiations that would preserve their rank and priviliges.

Furthermore, where the United States, Haiti, and South America had all received the benefit of foreign assistance, financial and military advisers, Mexico had largely “winged it”. No Marquis de Lafayette, no Daniel Florence O’Leary, no Baron von Stuben had come to Mexico, merely adventurers like Franciso Javiar Mina. Nor had the Mexicans been able to play off the European powers against each other… the United States receiving Spanish and French support fighting the British, Tousante L’Overture calling upon British and Spanish troops to drive out the French oppressors, and Bolivar, in turn, to seek assistance from the Haitians.

What foreign assistance Mexico, as in the rest of the former Spanish Empire, could expect was in the form of British loans. As Prime Minister George Canning said in 1825 when the first Latin American Ambassador arrived in England, “”Spanish America is free, and if we do not mismanage our affairs she is English … the New World established and if we do not throw it away, ours.1” Mexico, and indeed all of Latin America, would find itself with a “neo-colonial” status: their independence limited by their dependence on continued loans (and interest payments) to foreign bankers and control of their natural resources and exports in the hands of foreign businesses.

And, unlike the other newly independent American nations, Mexico had an aggressive, expansionist neighbor: the United States. In 1823, Secretary of State John Quincey Adams penned the position paper later known as the “Monroe Doctrine” (after the then-president James Monroe). Meant to warn off returning colonial powers like France and Spain, it also was aimed at the “Holy Alliance” (Prussia, Austria, and Russia), potential European powers that conceivably could take a role in the new nations or provide alternative export opportunities.

The United States, from the earliest English colonial era, had been a “settler state”, that is, unlike Mexico, where the Spanish rulers did not so much seek to replace the native population and import their own people as they did to extend their power over the natives and assimilate them into their own system, the English (and later Americans2) equated filling their territory with their own people with expanding power. Indeed, the country’s domestic economy was based on real estate, and land sales. Having acquired the Louisana territory in the “real estate deal of the century” back in 1803 when Napoleon took back the region from Spain and flipped it to the United States, the borderlands between what was New Spain and the United States had rapidly filled with new residents, as the native population was continually harrassed and forced to move further west into sparsely populated and little explored territory in what became Mexico. Stephen F. Austin was champing at the bit to begin legally selling land in Mexican Texas to U.S. Settlers, but U.S. Residents, stymied by already rising real estate prices in the what was then the western states, were already beginning to pour in, overwhelming what local authorities there were.

Mexico, however it was constituted, like the United States, was a massive territory, stretching from what is now Wyoming to Nicaragua, but a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural one, and whose people were not so much given to acquiring new land, as to holding on to what they had. The United States had worked out a political system based for the most part on British traditions, but republics were still a new thing in the world, and there was no consensus on how they would be organized.

The “three-guarantees” that had led to a successful revolutionary coalition had given more rights to the people than the United States, and British, systems did. Voting rights were not limited to Protestant land-owners (as in Britain) or to those of European descent (as in the United States, along with land-owning requirements) but to every adult male. Although slavery had not been officially abolished, during the independence struggle, there had been massive emancipations by various war-lords, and there was no thought (as in Haiti) or re-enslaving these new, theoretically equal, citizens.

Who would be governed (from Apaches to Zapotecs, not to mention criollos, mestizos, “africanos” and every variety in between) was perplexing enough, but the immediate question at independence was HOW to govern. In broad terms the United States Constitution was seen as a good model, but not one that fit the situation. France had been a Republic, and the French Revolution, being more a social uprising than, like in the United States, a question of whether or not the local elites should rule rather than the foreign elites, was another. France had drifted into anarchy until Napoleon emerged as Emperor. Among military men, even the die-hard democrat Simón Bolivar, he was greatly admired. And, among those intellectuals and activists who had survived the long independence struggle, there was a sense that a strongman ruler was needed to control the vast “empire”. And, being an empire, why not an emperor?

In 1820, as the Independence War was finally coming to an end, returning Spanish troops had rebelled against the absolute monarchy and forced a constitution on their king. Although, just as Mexico and Spain were negotiating independence, there was a royalist counter-coup that would restore absolutism, the idea of a constitution monarchy had its supporters: republics didn’t always work out (as in France and Haiti), and… frankly… a good number of the elites wanted a strong and stable leadership that would keep down those cries for “liberté, egalité, fraternité”.

As it was, the Treaty of Cordoba (24 August 1821) assumed that Mexico would be a monarchy. Appointing a Mexican emperor was not that bizarre an idea. Haiti had become a monarchy, and what is now Argentina also was debating the idea. Brazil went further. Portugal’s ruling family, and the imperial bureaucracy having sat out Napoleón’s occupation in Brazil, for a time Portugal became a colony of Brazil. Only when the Portuguese threatened to secede from Brazil, did the king return home, leaving his son as Portuguese Emperor and at least preserving family ties (and, it was hoped, economic and miltiary ones) between the rulers of the former colony and the mother country3.

Iturbide loved symbols, and he modeled himself on Napoleón. The French had a tri-colored flag representing their three ideals—liberty, equality, brotherhood—so México needed a three color flag—green for independence; white for church privileges; red for the mixed indigenous and European blood of the people. An alternative explanation, favored at the time by comedians and humorists, was that the down-to-earth Vicente Guerrero and Iturbide had watermelon for lunch when they met. Guerrero, with peasant humor, looked at the watermelon’s green husk, white rind and red fruit, suggested the color combination and just sat back as Iturbide concocted an explanation.

While there was a new flag, and a treaty with Spain recognizing Mexico’s independence, there was no real government. With Nicholas Bravo and Guadalupe Victoria, Iturbide entered Mexico City (21 September 1821) creating a provision government until an emperor could be found.

Iturbide, as head of the provisional government, stayed busy creating the symbols of a new country and creating the right tone for a new empire in the making. The rotting heads of Hidalgo, Allende, Aldama and Jiménez were finally taken down from the alhóndiga in Guanajuato and given a military burial.

There was a new Congress left in charge until an emperor could be selected. Some assumed they would be choosing a member of the Spanish royal family. However, with Ferdinand VII’s supporters openly warring with the Spanish liberals, and the royal family in low regard, there wasn’t much enthusiasm for the idea. A few in Congress thought of those of Moctezoma’s distant relatives who had become Spanish nobility. A few others talked about the Hapsburgs, who had plenty of unemployed relatives to select from.

María Ignacia Rodríguez de Velasco Osorio y Barba, aka La Güera Rodriguez

La Güera Rodríguez, the “femme-fatale” of the late Bourbon era, and underground Independence leader, had her own nominee. At the end of the war, Agustín Iturbide was among her… admirers. It is generally assumed it was she, more than anyone else, who convinced the professional soldier to switch from the Royalist to the Independista side. Given that Independence had been dragging on for ten years, and had become a war of attrition, only resolved when the military began to defect en masse, Iturbide was not necessarily wrong in seeing military men as essential to gaining, and more importantly, maintaining, independence, nor in seeing himself as THE essential leader for a new nation. Besides, he certainly looked the part4.

And so… like Napoleon Bonapart, the nation’s most celebrated soldier, Iturbide, simply decided that rather than wait, as suggested, for a European prince to assume the role of Constitutional Emperor, he would rule as Agustin I.

There would be no Agustin II.

Napoleón Bonaparte had also been a military commander and head of government in revolutionary France. Agustín Iturbide had been a military commander and head of government in revolutionary Mexico. Napoleón, as a member of a three-man ruling committee, had eased his two co-rulers out of the picture and made himself dictator. Itubide did the same, forcing Bravo and Victoria into secondary roles, then accusing dissenting congressmen of treason and having them arrested, Nicholas Bravo was jailed, and Guadalupe Victoria headed back into the woods. Congress’ crime was their realization that they couldn’t afford to pay the old colonial army that had been folded into the new national army, along with all the insurgent officers and the criollo draftees already on the army payroll. They had to cut the army down to sixty thousand men.

This might have been acceptable to the hacendados – hacienda owners – who had been drafted along with their workers, but for a lot of junior officers and sergeants the army was their only source of income. They had nothing to loose when Iturbide paid them to shout, “¡Viva Agustín Primero!” – “Long live Agustín the First!” – and threaten the congressmen. Napoleón Bonaparte had become Emperor of France through a military coup. Agustín Iturbide could do the same.

The Emperor Agustín was crowned 21 July 1822. No one seems to have considered what to do after the coronation…or given much thought to how much the coronation had dipped into the almost empty national treasury. During the wars, mining equipment had broken down and replacement parts were no longer available. Haciendas had been abandoned or destroyed in the fighting. Unpaid soldiers had turned bandit to survive. When Congress questioned whether an emperor who spent his time designing medals and inventing titles for his new dukes was earning his pay, the emperor threw several more congressmen in jail and told the rest of them to go home.

What are today the Central American countries (Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Nicaragua), less out of some democratic ideals than a reluctance by the local criollos to accept the Three Guarantees with their recognition of the indigenous and former slaves as citizens, opted for their independence from Mexico City (partially because the local criollos would not accept the three guarantees that recognized the indigenous peoples as citizens5.

If a bankrupt treasury, mounting loans from British banks, secession and a squabbling congress wasn’t enough, Spain had not quite given up on it’s claim to Mexico. As Viceroy O’Donojo was working out the terms of independence, Fernando VII of Spain had regained his absolute power, and labeled O’Donojo a traitor for working out a deal with the previous “constitutional” government6. Spanish troops had not yet withdrawn from San Juan de Ulúa, the fortress castle guarding the entrance to Veracruz, and they fired on the city.

Coming to the city’s defense was a locally popular leader, another career military officer, Antonio López de Santa Anna. In his memoir he claims to have always been a republican at heart, although, given his “changeable” attitudes towards governance, it’s difficult to say exactly what his position was at any given time. At any rate, the eccentric but committed republican, Guadalupe Victoria, having gone underground when Iturbide had declared himself Emperor, emerged from hiding to explain the basics and to buck up Santa Anna, who started to panic after Imperial loyalists put up a token resistance. The new general was ready to run for the United States border, but the old rebel cheerfully told him it wasn’t over until their heads had been chopped off. Besides, the rebellion wasn’t going to take very long.

With almost no army, no government and no money, Agustín realized the game was up. He had the congressmen called back to Mexico City—mostly to arrange his pension. He complained about the terms they offered but finally sailed off into exile.

Emperor Agustín came to a tragic or foolish…or maybe heroic end. When the Spanish landed another token invasion force in 1824, Agustín sailed back to México, planning to help drive out the invaders and retake his throne. After all, Napoleón had done the same thing, returning from exile to drive the Bourbons out of Paris and have the army restore him as emperor of the French, but…México was not France. Congress had warned Agustín he would be shot if he returned. He did…and he was.

Post-independence México was a mess. It would average over one president a year for the next forty years, have four different systems of government, be invaded several times and lose half of its territory. While the chaos and violence might suggest that Huitzilopochtli had come to earth, it was more the era of the trickster god, Tezacatlipoca…and the closest thing México has seen to his human incarnation.



2My preference is for USAnians, or United Statians, both rather clumsy terms, but then again, the United States, being the first past the post in hemispheric independence, called dibs on the name.

3Viceroy Juan O’Donajú was hoped to keep the King of Spain as King of Mexico (an arrangement something like that of today’s British Commonwealth, where former British colonies are independent countries, but the English monarch is the head of state), or failing that, at least keep the ties to Spain intact, though a ruler from the Spanish royal family.

4There is a theory that the United States has had so few professional soldiers as President thanks to a accident. While the first president, George Washington was tall and broad shouldered, and looked good in the gaudy uniforms of the time. The second president, short and chubby John Adams, looked simply ridiculous. Iturbide was tall, broad shouldered and, by the standards of the time, devastatingly handsome.

5 The Central American Republic would quickly break apart as one and another region seceeded. Part of what is now in the state of Chiapas would seceed from Guatemala to return to Mexico in the early 20th century. Costa Rica would not grant their indigenous people citizenship until the late 20th century.

6 O’Donajú was declared an traitor (for doing his job) and was a reluctant exile in Mexico. Negotiating on his own behalf, he pressed the new Mexican government to provide a pension for him … which wouldn’t do him much good. He no sooner rented a house in the Capital (today’s Tacuba 25 in the Centro Historico) than he died. Some suspect he was poisoned. His widow received his pension irregularly, if at all. Unable to keep up her bills, she was eventually evicted, and — despite occasional help from friends — ended up living in a rooming house where she died of starvation.


They’re coming! Be very afraid!

18 July 2019

Takedown of the week… er.. month…er… year

14 July 2019

Francisco Goldman on the latest travesty (“López Obrador’s cost-cutting spree is transforming Mexico — and drawing blowback from bureaucrats“) in the Washington Post:

The Washington Post is always so inept and slanted whenever they write about Mexico.

” Enrique Peña Nieto was so stylish that the famed Beverly Hills boutique Bijan designed a wristwatch in his honor. But his term was stained by scandal, including his wife’s purchase of a $7 million mansion from a government contractor.” Oh yes, that’s all that was wrong with that government, a little bit of that scandal stain, a mansion, and so was that the worst of it, then? The mansion? What are they going to write when EPN ends up in jail, what wristwatch will they design for him then? Always count on this kind of journalist to trot out Castañeda when they write one of these dummy pieces.

“It’s a vision that goes well beyond fiscal austerity, said Lorenzo Meyer, a prominent historian here.

“The whole idea of Mexico is different,” said Meyer, who supports the president.” This quote is funny, it’s posed like it’s supposed to make the reader wonder, Hmm, what’s he smoking. But the reporter did feel obligated to get into the piece that yes, the whole idea of Mexico is different, which is what AMLO campaigned on.

As a smart Mexican journalist friend put it to me the other day, AMLO is the best thing this government has going for it. AMLO is also the worst thing it has going for it. But, you know, did Peña Nieto’s government have anything actually good for it, besides his ability to inspire wristwatches and gushing USA headlines about being Mexico’s savior? Does the US president have anything good going for him? Does Guatemala’s president have anything good going for him? So, you know, even accepting the truthfulness of a seemingly a backhanded compliment, a president being the best thing a government has going for it does suggest that some interesting and worthy things are going on. (And also suggests that there are problems too; among those problems are rabid supporters who won’t accept any criticism of their leader and troll critical voices, including in the media, I’m sure which sounds familiar to an American reader.)
Of course this government is only 7 months old. It’s not easy, trying to “change Mexico,” especially when you inherited a mess like the new government did, and have to deal with the malevolent and incompetent bully to the north. As far as I can tell after just 6 weeks being back here, some things seem to be going well, others not so well. But the priorities speak for themselves, some of them mentioned (more or less dismissively, such as, you know, trying to shift spending to help the poor) in the article. Peña Nieto’s zillionaire lawyer buddy Collado was arrested on money laundering charges this week (Peña fled to Madrid, where he was said to be hiding out in that lawyer’s mansion — another mansion!), and people close to the government say this is just the start of what promises to be a tough, long and riveting legal fight against Mexico’s corrupt political mafia (Salinas, etc). The international judicial experts drummed out of the country in 2016 for coming too close to the truth in their investigations of the missing 43 Ayotzinapa students praise the new commission that has been established to investigate the case. A lot of people voted for AMLO because they wanted a government willing to take on the crisis of corruption and impunity — something Mexico has never had before, certainly not in the governments and government circles a creature of old Mexican establishment power like Castañeda moves in. (Castañeda, who when we were interviewed on the ludicrous Charlie Rose show, called me a conspiracy theorist when I said the 43 hadn’t been burned in the Cocula dump; he’s so lucky the episode didn’t air.)

Mexico needs to be reported on in a serious way. This is shallow slanted tripe. As usual.

Adios plastico…

4 July 2019

From MXCity Guia Insider:

Mexico City Congress has approved a bill prohibiting the use and commercialization of single use plastics beginning in 2020.

In the ordinary session and with 51 votes in favor, zero against and one abstention, the bill has been presented to the presented to the presented by the Commission for the Preservation of the Environment, Climate Change and Ecological and Animal Protection which will write the final regulations. They foresee gradually replacing single-use plastic articles with biodegradable products; beginning with bags, later adding cutlery, drinking cups, straws and stirrers.

This final regulations will be sent to Chief of Government, Claudia Sheinbaum, for promulgation in the Offical Mexico City Gazette, and further dissemination in the Official Gazette of the Federation.

The vice-coordinator of the Green Party, Alessandra Rojo de la Vega Piccolo, explained that the ruling that reforms and adds several provisions of the Solid Waste Law establishes the prohibition of the sale, distribution and delivery of single-use plastics, as well as as those containing added microplastics such as bags, cutlery, mixers, plates, straws, among others.

During the session, which also attended the Secretary of Environment of Mexico City, Marina Robles García, the local deputy explained that the measure aims to make the industry more co-responsible with the final destination of the products, so that can reintegrate into the environment or the circular economy.

The bill is designed to give the plastics industry time to re-orient its production, and coordinate with the post use disposal industry. PAN deputy Gabriela Salido Magos cautions that the measure is only a 10 year soldution, the measure is a solution for 10 years, since the demand for natural products could also have negative consequences, when other measures may need to be considered.

You broke it, you bought it…

28 June 2019

If you are unaware of why conditions in Central America (being the nations from Guatemala to Panama) are so difficult, as a historian I work with those causes. Foremost in the economic and political instability in the region is the violation of the political and economic sovereignty of the region carried out by Great Britain and the United States for much of the nineteenth century, all of the twentieth century, and so far all of the twenty-first century (more recently Canada is also joining the fun).


On Law, Illegality, Borders and Morality: Thoughts on Central American Assylum Seekers

Friends and fellow voters: it is not unpatriotic to review both past practice and current policy in an effort to advocate for improvement. The real patriot and citizen looks at their country and aspires for it to live up to its highest potential instead of covering for its most primitive Hobbesian urges. If you believe the United States has the potential to be a shining city on a hill, there is nothing wrong in recognizing it hasn’t always lived up to that potential. Take the time in the upcoming voting season to select candidates who will reject our drift away from law when they declare asylum seekers and refugees “illegal,” and instead choose candidates who see the potential in what a truly inspired nation can accomplish. Keep our laws and provide asylum claim review on a speedy manner. Some people will be able to stay. Others will have to return to Central America. But live up to our moral obligation by providing livable conditions with united families now and engage in an act of repentance by healing the wounds caused in Central America by 150 years of intervention.

The devil made him do it? The susp-exorcist

24 June 2019

Notas rojas (police beat news items) are generally paid by the word, which means the writers become brilliantly creative, conveying the simplest information in the most convoluted way possible, and … although Proceso does not really publish that peculiar literary form… there is no way any media outlet in the country can avoid the feeding frenzy for stories about Leonardo Avendaño’s murder two weeks ago. Although at the time, Avendaño’s murder was paired with that of another private university student in Tlalpan, in a country with an anticlerical history, and strong feelings about the role of the Roman Catholic Church, the murder of a seminarian and parish assistant has crowded out the other (not all that exciting) murder. Besides, when the prime suspect is not just any priest (and, yes… one can speculate on the relationship between the young deacon and the aging cleric), but a celebrity, if not one we’d normally read about in the gossip columns, and of a sort that leads to all manner of questions about the survival of folk beliefs in Mexico (as if this kind of celebrity isn’t also found in the United States and elsewhere); a faith healer and exorcist.

And it gets stranger from there.

Freely translated from Carlos Olvera, “El cura acusado de asesinar a Leonardo, experto en “recibimientos” y exorcismos“, Proceso, 22 June 2019.

Monday, Wednesday and Friday, locals and out of towners lined up starting at midnight at the door of Cristo Salvador parish church in Tlalpan, hoping to be received by Father Francisco Javier Bautista Ávalos. Not this week, the 58 year old cleric and reputed faith healer/exorcist having been arrested Saturday on suspicion of involment in the murder parish assistant Leonardo Avendaño, a 29 year old seminarian whose body was found two weeks ago strangled and showing “signs of torture”.

Belivers and neighbors report that on “reception days” the street was “chaos”, overrun with traffic, street vendors and the faithful waiting to see the renouned priest.

Regardless of weather or season, it was common to see mothers and fathers outside the parish with portraits of their children, some addicts, others missing, still others who had been abducted. Some came seeking to cure physical ailments, other to be relieved of spiritual pain, and still other, although less common, seeking to be freed from “demons”.

Streaming in when the church doors were opened about a quarter past six, Father Bautista
began “receiving”, generally hading three or four cases before starting his 8 AM morning Mass. After Mass, the priest continued his sessions.

The reception ritual invoved facing the priest while detailing the complaint, during which Father listened and prayed… his assistant, “Guille”, never more than a few steps away. Then, “in a language I do not know, maybe Latin,” says an assistant, the father would put his hands in front of you, at chest height and without touching you, and would continue to pray.

If necessary, the father nodded to his sexienarian assistant and constant sidekick, “Guille”, who would pull out a bottle of olive oil, or what was said to be holy oils, for the priest to annoint the sufferer and complete his or her “cure”.

“Guille” lives a few blocks from Cristo Salvador and, along with her husband and daughter, sells religious objects and musical Cds in front of the church. She is said to be the one with the gift for detecting “evil” or diagnosing the problem of those Catholics who come to the church.

Fifteen years ago, Bautista Ávalos was the parish priest at another church in the neighborhood, although it is said he was called to Rome to be prepared as an exorcist. The Vatican has been unable to confirm that the priest had any training as an exorcist. Since his return from Rome, his fame as a healer resulted in his being sent on a “retreat”, and reassignment to Cristo Salvador upon his return.

His acts of healing and exorcism, as well as his appearances on television programs specializing in these subjects, and books such as “Psalms and Prayers for Healing. Father Fco. Javier Bautista ” have given him some notority.

Believers say Padre Francisco Javier does not even have to be present to affect a cure. Fernando, a doctor who lived in Puebla at the time claims he was hospitalized and close to death when his grandmother approched the priest in Mexico City. According to Fernando, the priest, his grandmother and “Guille” prayed together:

“The father told her[the grandmother] to think about her grandson. There was the clairvoyant (Guille) with him and he said yes, they did have [Fernando] wrapped in a spider web, and with three demons, poking him. “

Under instruction by the priest, Fernando’s family prayed under an altar dominated by angels (presumably statues of angels) and he began his exorcism: “ … the prayer of liberation”.

According to Fernando’s grandmother, the priest asked Guille what she saw, the response beomg tjat “the demons did not let go… until she saw our Lord Jesus Christ with a hand on someone …” At that point, Father Francisco Javier assured the grandmother that “ tyes, it is our Lord Jesus Christ with your grandson who is already healed, he is already liberated.”

“From that time he has been healthy, as if nothing had happened to him,” said the grandmother, a native of the capital.

Gerardo Guzmán told Proceso he credit Padre Bautista and “Guille” with overcoming his 10 year struggle with alcohol and drugs, which had led to several hospitalizations. The Coyoacán resident agreed to visit the priest with his father in 2011. A neighbor of Guzmán’s said that “We went to see the father. He gladly assisted us. He told [Gerardo] that he was going to do an exorcism if he agreed. He said yes, he made a good confession and after the exorcism I took him home. He asked his parents for forgiveness and he has been clean and sober for 8 or 9 years, with the grace of God that Father Francisco Javier could help him.

Teresa Cortés Islas, from Puebla, relates her story this way:

15 years ago I was suffering from attacks by the enemy, done by my coworkers. I worked in Federal Roads and Bridges (Capufe). My age right now is 60 years. I am retired. ”

When I started to get sick I did not know what was wrong … it was a work of evil. They took out a stretcher.

Then Father Francisco Javier was the one who made me live. I went with him. I told him what happened to me. He generously cured me, helped me, and that is why I am alive.

And nowwhen I get sick, I go to him by phone or by email. I say to him: ‘Father, please pray for me, because I am sick.

He, on three occasions that I was able to go to Mexico, cured me and always gave me his encouragement.

Teresa said that unlike Father Francisco Javier, at the ISSSTE in Puebla [Civil Service health care clinc] they never found anything, and despite her discomfort, and they did not give him any medicine.

She concluded by saying “May God help you. He deserves all the help possible. He is not capable of what they say (Leonardo’s murder).”

On “no reception” days, the 7 AM Mass begins with an anointing of the sick, which attracts not only the local congregation, but, it is said, a sprinkling of celebrites, all seeking cures for their ailments.
“It makes you enter a state of spirituality so strong,” says a parishioner who attended a Mass because of a painful knee problem that made walking difficult. She said, that “while Francisco Javier prayed and anointed her, she saw ‘multicolored lights in her brain´’. Since then, she claims her ailment has disappeared.

On Thursday the 20th there was no “reception” in the parish of Christ the Savior, but there were Catholics, and many. Since the previous night, dozens congregated in the temple with one sole purpose: to pray for Father Francisco Javier, arrested on Wednesday for his alleged involvement in the Leonardo Avendaño, his acolyte and assistant’s, death.

By 9:00 pm, “It seemed like Sunday noon,” said a parishioner of the service, where more than 500 adults and children gathered inside and outside the church to pray for their priest.

Inside and outside the church, believers some kneeling, others tearful, and some more on the edge of anger, raised their pleas that the city police officers did their job right, and let the veteran pastor go.

The news that the Attorney General’s Office of Justice had reported the arrest of Bautista, found after four days of an intense search for the missing cleric.

The parish where the faithful had gone in hopes of remedying their physical and spiritual ills was now in mourning and without their priest. The last they had seen of him was officiating at Leonardo’s funeral mass, the day after he was found stranguled and wrapped in a blanket. The ministry investigation added that the crime was of a “personal nature”.

On Thursday the thirteenth, the believers mourned the 29 year old seminarian. Six days later, they were no longer prayed for Leo, but for the priest who offered the funeral Mass.

Avendaño is remembered as very close to the priest, as well as to a young church organist. Several people have said that Leonardo spoke on behalf of the priest in a financial matter. It was an open secret that Bautista was in poor health, having been hospitalized for bronchopneumonia twice in recent months, and in need of money to pay medical bills.

In addition, Father Bautistas two brothers both died recently, further distracting him from his parish work. While there were substitute priests, none were healers.

Thursday’s Mass was led by Bautista’s friend. Padre Benjamín, on loan from another parish. His sermon was the first indication the faithful had that their parish priest was in custody. The thirty clerics and religious in attendance, and the approximately 200 parishioners were told “We have to support him, we have to be united … with prayer. We are going to ask God for him.”

In the Cristo Salvador parish chursh, where for the last 15 years Francisco Javier celebrated the Eucharist and attended to all, the roles were reversed. Now, the prayers for for him, not the fiathful.

Almost at the same time of the mass, around 50 demonstrators from the neighborhood, placards in hand, demanded Bautista’s release. A second group demonstrated outside the Public Prosecutor’s offices.

The Arquidiocese of Mexico City reiterated it’s complete willingness to provide information required by investigators, while at the same time expressing its concern for those affected by violence and lack of security in our country.