Defender of justice Superbarrio roams Mexico City
July 19, 1997
Web posted at: 6:20 p.m. EDT (2220 GMT)
MEXICO CITY (CNN) -- He's faster than a speeding turtle, able
to leap small speed bumps in a single bound. Look, up in the
sky ... Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Superbarrio --
a flabby caped crusader in cherry red tights who traverses
the streets of Mexico City, defending the lower class.
A high school dropout with a humble upbringing, Superbarrio
has become one of Mexico City's greatest folk heroes. For the
past 10 years, he has stood as the champion of the working
class, the poor and the homeless.
"I opened my eyes and found myself as you see me with a voice
telling me, 'You are Superbarrio,'" he said, explaining that
his name means super-neighborhood. "I can't stop a plane or a
train single-handed, but I can keep a family from being
His true identity remains a mystery, masked behind his quirky
outfit. By day, he's a street vendor, but at any time he can
squeeze into the flashy tights to fend off evil. Little
else is known about the masked man, fitting of a true
His role is primarily symbolic as the protector of low-income
neighborhoods. But on behalf of squatters and labor unions,
Superbarrio leads protest rallies, files petitions and
challenges court decisions. Rumors also have circulated that
he attempted to run for the president of the United States to
better protect Mexican workers.
He says his mission is simply to protect the right of
His followers find him inspirational and recently erected a
statue in his honor -- a giant lifelike replica that looks
like an oversized Cabbage Patch doll at 40. The awed crowd
chanted, "You see him. You feel him. Superbarrio is here!"
Superbarrio, meanwhile, continues to stroll the streets of
Mexico City seeking to uphold justice and defend the weak.
Correspondent Chris Kline contributed to this report.
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