The first wrestler in Mexico to become a political figurehead was Superbarrio, who emerged in 1987 to protest against corrupt landlords in the country’s capital. Now masked Mexican activists campaign for a range of social issues, from feminism to gay rights. In Mexico City, SuperluzSME rides through protests on his motorbike, railing against the privatization of the electricity industry.
“I could tell you my real name is Juan, Pedro or Enrique, but the man behind the mask is not important. What’s important is the masked persona that fights alongside workers from the SME [Mexican Union of Electricians]. I fought in the ring as the Executioner before I realized that wrestling, soap operas and football stupefy the people and make them apathetic to social issues. Now, on a motorbike, or, as I call it, my metal steed, I ride through city streets hounding rotten politicians, telling that band of raptors that the Mexican people are waking up and say ‘No’ to their festering policies.
“I am a former employee of Luz Y Fuerza del Centro [Central Light and Power]. In a drunken stupor, former president Felipe Calderón closed the company and stripped its assets with the brutality of a fascist. He threw 44,000 workers out onto the streets. Traitors took the crumbs the government offered, but 16,599 began a heroic resistance. We are the ‘SMEitas Warriors of Light,’ and we fight the privatization of electricity. We go to places where the authorities attack, steal our money, and offend the workers. That’s where we make our presence felt. I take the microphone and talk to the media, to the people of Mexico.
“The Federales [Mexican Federal Police] were created to defend citizens, but presidents use them to repress the people. I stand before them and wave posters insulting their employers. They don’t attack; they know the media are watching. Often I go over to shake their hands; some turn their backs. I stare at them and say, ‘Give me your fucking hand, you dumb bastard. I’m a person, too. What are you afraid of?’”
SuperluzSME, 51, labor activist.
From the pages of COLORS #88 - Protest.