Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Other Temptation of Christ

Come Friday, communities all over Mexico (through, regrettably, not ours) will be re-enacting the Passion on a grand scale, complete with crucifixion (though as far as we can find, none of them use real nails, which strikes us, frankly, as somewhat half-assed). In San Joaquín, a small town here in the state of Querétaro, a guy named Jose Manuel Ledesma Guerrero (left) will, for the seventh year in a row, play the part of Jesus Christ. A few days later - for the seventh year in a row - Ledesma will say goodbye to his family, hitch a ride north, and wander through the Arizona desert into the United States - where, like Jesus, he works as a carpenter. Illegally, of course.

Jesus is a wetback.

Ledesma specializes in installing floors in McMansions, and has plied his trade in California, Alabama and Mississippi. Now that he has a six-month-old son, he had hoped to be able to stay in Mexico, build his own home and start a business, but he just can't make ends meet here. In the US, he makes $9.50 an hour - about 15 times the Mexican minimum wage.

As we've mentioned a couple dozen times here, people in Mexico take their churchin' very seriously, and Ledesma's devotion to playing his part in the Passion has meant seven very risky round-trips over the border. When the newspaper asked him - as Jesus - what he was praying for this year, he said, "for San Joaquín, for my wife and child, and, well, that everything goes well for me in the US."

    Christ, you know it ain't easy,
    You know how hard it can be,
    The way things are going,
    They're gonna crucify me...

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