Friday, April 1, 2016

On Folk Catholicism and Drug Trafficking

On Folk Catholicism and Drug Trafficking: In many parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, aspects of the Catholic Church (especially sainthood) have meshed with elements of localized folk religions. Thus, "folk Catholicism" is any kind of ethnic or localized expression of Catholic teachings that have either be confirmed or denied as blasphemous by the Church. Perhaps one of the most well-known "saints" in folk Catholicism is Santa Muerte (pictured above). In Mexico and parts of the American Southwest, Saint Death is worshiped on a cult level as a protector of souls making the transition to the afterlife. Although worship of her is considered heretical by the Catholic Church, she is particularly popular among drug traffickers (who live with the prospects of death all the time). Aside from Santa Muerte, drug traffickers also pay homage to a folk saint named Jesus Malverde. But unlike Saint Death, Malverde is believed to have been an actual person who lived in Sinaloa, Mexico, from the 1870s to the early 1900s. Growing up under the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz, Malverde saw how impoverished the people of Sinaloa had become. And after his parents died in poverty, he became a "righteous" bandit committing robberies and smuggling illicit goods with a Robin Hood mentality in mind.

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