A new beer named after the “patron saint” of drug traffickers is brewing up controversy in Mexico, where the government is locked in a bloody battle against drug gangs.
Malverde Beer is named after Jesús Malverde, a Robin Hood-style figure who is revered by drug smugglers in the western Mexico state of Sinaloa. It debuted in April and has been spreading to bars around western Mexico. The brewer plans to sell it in the United States, too.
The beer has appeared as Mexico is reeling from a spike in drug-related murders and the United States prepares to pour about $465 million into Mexican anti-drug efforts. Civic groups in Sinaloa have criticized the beer, and Wal-Mart of Mexico has refused to stock it.
“When a product exalts something illegal, that’s wrong,” said Paul Velázquez, president of the Los Mochis Area Business Owners’ Association in northern Sinaloa.
The new brew is part of the so-called narcoculture that continues to fascinate Mexicans despite the violence that has swept over the country in recent years, Velázquez said.
Songs about drug smugglers, known as narcocorridos, remain a staple of Mexican banda music. Newsstands sell pocket-size comic books starring smugglers and hit men, and Mexican movies like the upcoming El Cartel revolve around the country’s underworld. One of the hot books of the summer is The Queen of the Pacific and other Narco Women, about Sandra Ávila, who was arrested in October and remains in prison on charges of drug trafficking.
I suppose this is more proof the there is no such thing as bad press, since sales continue going up even with WalMart of Mexico refusing to carry the beer. I would also think that since it is highly disputed whether or not Malverde (translated roughly into “Evil Green”) even existed would be enough to shush naysayers and send everybody home. But it probably doesn’t help that Mexico is in the middle of a highly publicised and very bloody war with Drug Runners makes this a popular target for media and politicians. Have one on me.