Valentín de la Sierra
     Valentín de la Sierra
is by far the best known of the corridos from the period.  Several versions of this corrido exist, many of which have distorted the original content of the song.  Most scholars seem to agree that Valentín Avila Ramírez was a Cristero from Huejuquilla el Alto, Jalisco, who fell into the hands of the agraristas in the nearby region of Valparaíso, Zacatecas.  He was interrogated regarding the movements of the Cristero forces, and was later executed by the federal troops.  Antonio Avitia has been able to piece together more details about the story.  Apparently Valentín served as a spy for the Cristero general Pedro Quintanar, in the area surrounding Huejuquilla, Jalisco.  He also directed his own small contingent of some fifteen Cristero soldiers, which was based at the hacienda Los Landa.  One of the agrarista captains in Valparaíso, Epigemio Talamantes, recognized Valentín.  The captain then asked him to join his battallion, unaware that his old friend was affiliated with the Cristeros.  Later, a woman in a restaurant identified him as one of Quintanar's men.  It was at that time that the agraristas began to interrogate Valentín. (Avitia, pp. 77-78)  The original lyrics of the corrido indicate that, out of fear, the prisoner answered their questions: "Valentín muy asustado / de todo les dio razón."  But they also suggest that revenge for some transgression committed by a fellow Cristero was another motive for cooperating: "-Por una ofensa que tengo / de Ignacio Serrano / me quiero vengar."  

Valentín de la Sierra by Alfonso Huerta

Original engraving by Alfonso Huerta

      Although Valentín answered many of their questions, for some reason he chose not to reveal the location of the curato, which was the secret chapel where forbidden Masses were said or the house of the clandestine priest by the name of Justo.  Be that as it may, the agraristas decided that as a spy and informer; he was an expendable traitor and was executed.
      Based on the original lyrics of this corrido, we are presented with a man who was a traitor and a coward.  It is believed that the different versions of this corrido have come about as a result of the fact that the federal soldiers often sang parodies of it.  Over time, as the lyrics were altered, the figure of Valentín morphed into a heroic and tragic figure, a martyred Cristero who did not betray his fellows, but rather was willing to die for his religion.  Though the exact nature of Valentín's treachery continues to be a subject of debate, the dramatic potential of a lonely man of faith fighting in the mountains, betrayed by a woman, handed over to oppressive government forces and martyred has trumped the muddy reality of the real events.  Over the years, the corrido has evolved, losing and gaining verses in longer and shorter versions as the demands of the public or market dictated, eventually, coming to us in the various forms we see today.

    Angel Morales, voice and harp, and Juan Manuel Morales, violin, Zacatecas, Zac. Instituto de los corridos de Zacatecas y Altos de Jalisco, Corridos de la Rebellion Cristera, Irene Vásquez Valle y José de Santiago Silva. México, 1986.

Voy a cantar unos versos
De un amigo de mi tierra,
Del valiente Valentín
Que fue afusilado
Y colgado en la sierra.

Ni me quisiera acordar
Si era una tarde de invierno,
Cuando por su mala suerte
Cayó Valentín
En manos de gobierno.

En el arroyo del Fresno
Con Valentín se encontraron
Los agraristas del valle,
Le hicieron preguntas
Y se lo llevaron.

Se fueron pa' Huejuquilla
En..... lo encontraron;
El pobre de Valentín
Se encontraba triste,
Muy desconsolado.

Se fueron para una fonda
Todos juntos a comer,
Todo el Estado Mayor,
Epigmenio, Chon Salas,
Valentín también.

Se sentaron en la mesa
Juntos con el general,
Una vieja lo entregó
Que era de la gente
De ese Quintanar.

Le preguntó el general:
-¿Cuánta es la gente que mandas?
-La gente está afortinada,
Son quince soldados
De rancho de Holanda.

Le preguntó el general
Cuánta era la compañía:
-Son ochocientos soldados
Que trae por la sierra
Mariano Mejía.

El general le decía:
-Valentín di la verdad
-Mira que si tu me dices
Te doy dos mil pesos
Y tu libertad.

El general le decía:
-Yo te concedo el indulto,
Pero me vas a decir
¿Dónde está el curato
Y la casa de Justo?

Le contestó Valentín:
-Eso no puedo decir,
Prefiero el que me maten,
Yo por un amigo
Prefiero morir.

Lo llevan para la sierra
A hacerle la ejecución;
-Ya me voy con los del valle
Adiós mis amigos,
Adiós ya me voy.

Antes de subir al cerro
Valentín quiso llorar:
-Madre mía de Guadalupe,
Por tu religión
Me van a matar.

Al llegar al Charco Largo
Le vuelven a preguntar:
-¿Quiénes son los levantados?
De Higinio Madera
Y Pedro Quintanar.

Del pobre de Valentín
Un capitán se dolió
Lo montaron en un macho
Y en él lo llevaron
A donde murió.

Muévase este Valentín:
-¡Válgame Dios ahora qué hago!
-Le contestó este Chon Salas:
-Si quieres ir,
Ahí está mi caballo.

Le pusieron una cruz
Pa' no pederlo de vista,
Para tener un recuerdo
Queridos amigos,
De los agraristas.

Vuela, vuela palomita
De la torre hasta el fortín;
Aquí se acaban cantando
Los versos de Chon Salas
Y de Valentín.

Let me sing you a song,
About a friend from my country,
The valiant Valentín
Who was gunned down
And hanged in the mountains.

I hate to look back,
On that wintry afternoon,
When his luck ran out,
And Valentín fell into
The government's clutches.

In Fresno Gulch
Valentín was discovered
By the agraristas from the valley
They questioned him
And took him away.

So they went on toward Huejuquilla
There…. They found him.
Poor Valentín
He was very sad
And feeling hopeless.

They went to an inn,
To eat all together,
All of the big guys,
Epimenio, Chon Salas,
Valentín, too.

They sat at a table
Together with the General,
An old lady ratted him out,
That he was one
Of Quintanar's guys.

The general asked him:
"Who is in your band?"
-"They're all holed up,
Fifteen soldiers from
The Holland Ranch."

The general asked him:
"How big is your company?"
-"Eight hundred soldiers in all,
Led through the mountains,
By Mariano Mejía."

The general then said:
"Look, Valentín, tell me the truth,
If what you have told me is true
I'll give you two thousand pesos
And your freedom."

The general then said:
"I will pardon you everything
But, you must tell me this,
Where is the secret place of worship
And the house of Father Justo?"

Valentín answered,
"That I cannot say.
I'd rather die,
I can't betray a friend,
Kill me instead."

They took him to the mountain,
To carry out the execution,
"I leave with the men of the valley,
Farewell all my friends,
Farewell, I am gone."

Before they got to the summit,
Valentín wanted to cry,
"My Holy Mother of Guadalupe,
For your religion,
They are going to kill me."

As they got to Charco Largo,
They asked him again:
"Who are those who have taken up arms,
With Higinio Madera
And Pedro Quintanar?"

But for poor Valentín,
The captain felt pity,
As he put him on a stallion,
And took him away
Where he would die.

As Valentín approached his death,
"Good God! How can this happen!"
Chon Salas answered,
"If you're ready to go,
I'll lend you my horse."

They placed a cross on him,
That he could gaze upon,
And so they could have a souvenir
Such dear friends,
Those agraristas.

Fly, fly away little dove,
To the tower in the fortress,
Here I finish singing,
The song of Chon Salas
And of Valentín.

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