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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.

vxtreme Superbarrio roams Mexico City

"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 evicted."

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 superhero.


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 ordinary people.

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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