A death cult that venerates a scythe-wielding skeletal figure is booming in Mexican border cities south of Texas where hundreds have died this year in all-out drug war.Furthermore...
The centuries-old pagan cult of Santa Muerte, or Saint Death, has sprung back up in Mexico in recent years and claims some 2 million faithful, ranging from elite politicians to kidnappers and gangsters.
The revival began in Mexico City. Now, roadside shrines to the ghoulish figure stud highways approaching the U.S. border around the city of Nuevo Laredo, where more than 45 people have been killed in the drug fight so far this year.
Violence peaked in Nuevo Laredo last week when suspected cartel hitmen machine gunned the city's new public security chief, Alejandro Dominguez, to death just hours after he was sworn into the job.This is another one that Reuters calls "odd."
At least two more killings have occurred in the city since troops moved in. Many jittery stall holders declined to talk in detail about the death cult.
But Aridjis, who has tracked the cult's growth in Mexico, says drug traffickers seek favors from Santa Muerte they could not ask of saints venerated by the Church in Mexico, the world's second largest Roman Catholic nation.
"They say 'Protect me tonight because I am going to commit a crime. I am going to ambush my enemies, I am going to smuggle drugs to the United States,'" Aridjis said.
Local residents not caught up in crime call on the saint, also known as "La Nina Blanca" or the "White Child," to keep loved ones out of the path of a stray bullet or prevent their children from falling into a life of crime.
But the figure is more often associated with criminals.
"It is becoming a savage, brutal cult," on the border, Aridjis said. "People are living in a psychosis of fear."