Explore El Salvador

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The Just Judge

The Justo Juez (Just Judge) is a legendary figure in Salvadoran mythology.  According to oral tradition, he is a ghost who appears to roam the roads late at night.  Some describe him as being mounted on a black horse.  According to legend, he is a tall figure that has no head; in place of his head there is a column of smoke.

Those who have come across the Justo Juez in the middle of the night say they were advised to return home because the night belongs to him.  In more than one occasion, people who didn’t heed his warning were whipped.

The famous Salvadoran poet, Roque Dalton wrote this about the Justo Juez [translated from Spanish]: “Dry as a tree killed by the strangler vine, his face glows slightly with pale ash of centuries and in his red eyes we can hope only for madness or death.  No one is more just than he, however, hence his name.” 

In 2004, la Direccion General de Correos (the National Postal Service) in El Salvador issued a postage stamp featuring the Justo Juez with its series called “Legends of El Salvador.”