According to scholars, “Mariano Resendez” represents the first of the contraband corridos. This pre-revolutionary corrido deals with many of the social issues that also faced heroes such as Heraclio Bernal and Gregorio Cortez. The government of Porfirio Diaz taxed as much as 300% of incoming fine cloths. For this reason, smuggling these materials into Mexico from the U.S. became a very lucrative business. Mariano Resendez is most remembered for heading a large-scale textile smuggling operation. Resendez was often accompanied by up to one hundred armed accomplices. When bribery and intimidation failed to persuade customs officials to overlook the contraband he carried, he was more than willing to engage in gun battles. His blatant defiance of the Diaz government was not only restricted to the smuggling of goods across the border, but he also, as evidence suggests, supplied arms to local resistance leaders. Eventually his acts of rebellion caught up to him. Resendez was finally brought down during a surprised attack on his hideout at the El Charco Ranch by one of Porfirio Diaz’s trusted officers, Nieves Hernandez. It is believed that he was shot while trying to escape, and thus, never faced charges. Mariano Resendez, unlike many protoganists of the narcocorridos, is celebrated as both a hero of intercultural conflict and a social bandit in so much as his illegal acts aided citizens who could not afford to purchase various imported goods due to price inflation at the hands of Porfirio Diaz.
Ano de mil novecientos
Le iban a quebrar la puerta
José María Reséndez,
El carro “onde” iba Mariano,
Como le tuvieron miedo
Empleaditos de Guerrero
Ya con ésta me despido
The year of nineteen hundred
They were going to break down the door
Jose Maria Reséndez,
The cart in which Mariano was riding
Because they were afraid of him,
You policemen of Guerrero [Tamps.]
Now with this I bid farewell,
“Mariano Resendez” belongs to the heroic subgenre of contraband corridos. As such, Resendez is portrayed in a very positive light and is celebrated as a social bandit similar to that of Heraclio Bernal (who became a legend for robbing the Anglo owners of gold mines during the intercultural conflict era). Since many Mexicans had very anti-Porfirian sentiments, the corrido contains descriptions of cowardly Mexican policemen who hunt for and eventually kill Resendez. In short, the policemen are insulted, while Mariano is exalted as a hero. This representation of smugglers and their enemies paves the way for later contraband corridos, even when the illegal goods transition from expensive textiles to narcotics.
The older and longer version of “Mariano Resendez” contains many speech events by the protagonist (Resendez) and the main antagonist (Nievas Hernandez, the policeman supposedly responsible for the death of Resendez). The speech event in stanza 22, for example, provides a remark typical of corrido protagonists: Resendez insults his enemies by likening them to women.
While the shorter commercial version of “Mariano Resendez” lacks the abundance and emotionality of speech events, it still makes the point that the Mexican patrolmen fear Resendez. This appears predominately in stanza seven, when the corridista sarcastically tells the policemen they will “no longer die of fright” now that the famed smuggler is dead.