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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Juan Soldado, the Saint of Migrants

Juan Soldado sounds alongside Santa Muerte or Malverde as a "saint" to whom the needy pray. He is the patron saint of the desperate who want to cross to the other side but cannot: the Saint of the Migrants..

Juan Soldado
Robert Diaz (@betistofeles). Peninsula 360 Press [P360P].

Thousands of men and women have died in the strangest ways for refusing to renounce their faith - whatever their worship - and the manner of their death has determined their subsequent worship or malediction. 

St. Ignatius of Antioch, who became a bishop and held the curia for 40 years, was thrown to the lions who devoured him alive. St. Blaise was flayed with an iron comb and then beheaded. St. Dorothea, on her way to the scaffold, told those attending her execution that, where she was going, there was neither cold nor winter. A mocking young man told her, then, after she was dead and as proof, to send him a basket of flowers to prove the eternal spring in which she would live. The following year, he received the basket and that impressed young man also converted to Christianity and died as a martyr, his name was Saint Theophilus. 

Juan Castillo Morales shares this unjust way of dying - or so it has been said - to save his name from the oblivion in which his detractors have wanted to put him. He sounds, along with Santa Muerte or Malverde, like a saint to whom the needy pray. Juan Soldado is the patron saint of the desperate who want to cross to the other side but cannot. He is the Saint of the Migrants.

In the voice of chronicler Juan Garibay, Juan Castillo Morales was a soldier from Oaxaca who on February 13, 1938 was at the headquarters of the barracks on Callejón Z between 2nd and 3rd, almost on the corner of F in Tijuana, Baja California. 

There was a little girl who lived on Second Street, Olga Camacho Martínez, who used to pass by there on her way to the store and would come to the command to run errands for which the soldiers paid her "piloncito". One day, when Juan had a fight with his wife, the girl passed by the place and Juan was drunk and presumably a mariguano, he wanted to take the girl by force and killed her. 

After committing the murder, he took her body out of the window and carried her to a shop opposite the garrison where he dismembered her and put her in a toolbox. Her uniform was covered in blood. He went home and told his wife -when she saw him arrive full of blood-: "Because of you, look what I did", because of the effect of the drunkenness he was carrying, he fell asleep. 

It was at that moment that the wife took the bloodstained clothes to the commander's office. The police went after the soldier even though the girl had not been reported missing. A group of neighbors began the search until they found, by the blood marks on the walls, the soldier's house where they found the toolbox with the remains of the girl. The mother lost her sanity. The murderer accepted his guilt and regretted his crime, because he also loved the girl. The villagers wanted the soldier to be executed and although the army, at the time, defended him from being lynched, the case reached the president who asked the United States government to intervene and investigate the case. 

An FBI agent, Ed Dieckmann, chief of typing for San Diego County, was commissioned and after a brief investigation, he would say that it had been one of the easiest cases he had ever had to solve because he had a confessed murderer, samples of the soldier's skin under the murdered girl's fingernails and also the rapist's semen in the little girl's womb. 

The army sentenced him to the escape law. They took the soldier to the cemetery in the city of Tijuana and shot him there. Later, the place where the soldier fell was identified with a stone by one of the people who attended the shooting. Over time, more stones were placed in the place and, when they saw that there was a considerable mound, someone came up with the idea of grabbing an abandoned grave next to the entrance of the cemetery, it was said that the soldier had fallen there and it became a place of worship where the parishioners went and asked for miracles related to being able to pass to the other side. 

If that were the only version of the legend about Juan Soldado, it is very likely that he would have gone down in history as a vile murderer; however, along with the facts already narrated, we must take into account that, at that time, Lázaro Cárdenas served as president of Mexico, who began a crusade against casinos that, at least in Tijuana, had more implications than elsewhere; a business that represented one of the main destinations for tourists and foreign visitors. The murdered girl was the daughter of one of the union leaders who had his hands in the casino business.

There were also people who claimed that the political motive for the assassination was to intimidate these unscrupulous leaders, and that the captain on duty in the military garrison forced the private to take the blame. The woman who, they said, was Juan Soldado's wife, in reality, only appeared on that occasion bringing the soldier's clothes and subsequently disappeared without a trace. 

It was also strange that the scheduled execution was public, as these acts were considered by Mexican authorities to be barbaric and without legal basis. On the other hand, the execution was arranged early in the morning of February 17, 1938, so that the journalists' photos could satisfy the hunger for blood and vengeance that was falling on the soldier who had just turned 24 years old.  

Juan Soldado was executed in front of more than a thousand people.

His tomb is the main attraction in Tijuana's number one municipal cemetery. Over time, her tomb has been filled with a variety of offerings: votive offerings, tombstones, candles, photographs of people who want to cross into the United States but can't, and of people involved in human trafficking. Little Olga's tomb, which was moved to another cemetery - Tijuana's number two - was gradually forgotten and is now known as the tomb of the forgotten girl. 

Prayer to Juan Soldado

Juan Soldado

Praised be the Most Holy name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; three divine persons and one true God. Who, with His infinite and merciful power, have showered grace and miraculous indulgences on my dear brother and protector Juan Castillo Morales, in the name of Almighty God, Spirit and soul of Juan Soldado for very certain reasons, and with my heart overflowing with faith in your immediate help, I come to confide to you all the sorrows that torment me morally and materially. I do not doubt for an instant that, through your infallible intercession before the Almighty, my good desires will be fulfilled if they are convenient for the greater glory of God Our Lord and yours in particular.

As you will well realize, Juanito, my longings are devoid of captious wickedness and all I desire is to find effective support from you to silence the moral and material destitution in which I find myself plunged.

Brother John Soldier, I earnestly beg you not to abandon me with your protection in this difficult trial.

I trust in your merciful omnipotence of God and in your unfailing help promising you, from this moment, to be one more of your countless devotees. Amen.

Peninsula 360 Press
Peninsula 360 Presshttps://peninsula360press.com
Study of cross-cultural digital communication


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