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Rise of the Narco-Saints in Mexico

The Rise of the Narco-Saints - Jake Flanagin - The Atlantic

Stashed in: Mexico

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But Santa Muerte, or “Saint Death,” is more than just a morbid decoration. She is the central figure of what some scholars say is the fastest-growing religious movement in North America. Los santos de los narcos, or “narco-saints,” are informal patrons of Mexico’s chief illicit trades: money laundering, smuggling, and, of course, drug trafficking. A product of religious syncretism—specifically, a blending of Iberian Catholic and Mesoamerican traditions—Santa Muerte has never been canonized. In fact, the Vatican is openly critical of her growing prominence. In an interview with the Mexican newspaper Excelsior, Father Hugo Valdemar, the director of communications for the Archdiocese of Mexico City, called the cult of Santa Muerte blasphemous, diabolical, and anticultural. “Culture is intended for the development of the person, his potential, his qualities, and the expression of his spirit,” he said. “The cult of Santa Muerte is destructive. What it seeks is death.”

Like the God of Death on Game of Thrones?


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