- Title: MEXICO: Devotees to cult figure "Saint Death" pray for an end to violence
- Date: 16th August 2010
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) PRIEST DAVID ROMO SAYING: "Now we are asking that they legalize drugs because we are dealing with difficulty the violence created by organized crime and we know that legalization would leave them dumbfounded. Instead of increasing crime it would decrease. It will put it (drug dealing) at a disadvantage and the concept of understanding will be created. All the voices that have spoken of the catastrophe and negative repercussions of legalization we say that there are countries that have accepted it, who have controlled it, risen above and are helping more of their society."
- Embargoed: 31st August 2010 13:00
- Location: Mexico
- Country: Mexico
- Topics: Religion
- Reuters ID: LVA93YA5NB5S1512MX7NDDCJPN7E
- Story Text: The followers of Mexico's "Saint Death" cult figure prayed to her image Sunday (August 15) in the hopes that she might help them overcome drug use and other misfortunes they might suffer.
Known as "Santa Muerte" in Spanish, the saint is revered by criminals and law abiding citizens alike. She is often depicted as a skeletal "grim reaper" draped in white satin robes, beaded necklaces and carrying a scythe. Followers leave offerings of tequila, rum, beer, cigarettes, cash, flowers and candy at altars adorned with rosaries and candles.
The Catholic Church frowns on the cult, whose origins may be traced back to Aztec and Mayan death-gods or to ancient European traditions, but many devotees call themselves Catholics.
"Most of the druglords are Roman Catholic and are not devoted to Saint Death," said the cult's high priest David Romo. "The troupe, the people, the people who are affected by drugs are the devout."
The lure of the death saint is that she is said to honor requests without judging them.
"I was very close to her (death) and from that moment I am devoted to Saint Death," said devotee Elizabeth Rivera. "No one told me about her. I came close to her myself because I lived it with my own flesh."
According to Romo, the saint has at least 5 million followers, ranging from police officials and politicians to kidnappers and gangsters who are said to ask her for protection before setting out on hits.
More than 26,000 people, mainly traffickers and police, have been killed in Mexico's drug war since December 2006.
"Now we are asking that they (the government) legalize drugs because we are dealing with difficulty the violence created by organized crime and we know that legalization would leave them dumbfounded," said Romo
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