Drug cartels have a full panoply of false gods.
The best-known in the wide-ranging and impressive array is Our Lady of the Assassins, made famous by a popular novel that was later made into a movie. She’s also known as Santa Muerte, a grim reaper figure which even turned up in Breaking Bad,
The most recent is The Infant Huachicolero, essentially a baby Jesus with a jerry can, an image promoted by gangs in Puebla, Mexico. Huachicoleros illegally tap oil pipelines, stealing fuel for cheap resale – a business which, according to the BBC, has become Mexico’s second-biggest organized crime after drug trafficking.
A Google search for religious imagery and drug cartels yields almost 250,000 results, among them Know Your Narco Saints: The Religious Iconography of the Drug Trade
Some of these figures are true “Narco-Saints,” forthright patrons of illegal acts. Others are simply saints that narcos pray to, holy figures asked to intercede in unholy doings. Even Jesus and Mary are not considered beyond the pale.
It’s hardly surprising that cartels would be willing to exploit this tradition of the Catholic Church for their purposes. For instance, San Ramon Nonato (Saint Raymond Nonnatus), patron saint
of the the secrecy of the confessional, of priests keeping their mouths shut. In narco culture, that secrecy is extended to more secular arenas. Namely, police interview rooms and witnesses boxes at the courthouse. “If you get arrested you’re gonna pray to this saint hoping that your witness or whoever is gonna testify against you will be silent and keep the secret of your dirty deed,” says Garza. Petitioners sometimes offer padlocks at San Ramon’s altar, or place tape across his mouth.
How better to broadcast the message “keep your mouth shut”?
A republic requires virtue, and the decline of virtue is accompanied necessarily by the decline of the concept of evil, and its substitution by exculpatory analysis of the “motives” of evil. A more useful conversation would be on what it takes to remove the most basic societal inhibition – including the instinctive revulsion that would prevent most of us from taking the lives of strangers, including in this case eighteen-month-old babies.
Like at the cartels,
That inhibition is weaker in the dar al-Islam, because of Islam’s institutional contempt for “the other” (unbelievers) but also because of the rewards promised in the afterlife. Thus, violence is sanctioned by paradise. That is the precise inversion of our society, and yet the weakening of inhibition seems to be proceeding here, too.
“One should not underestimate the effectiveness of cultural pressures,” Steyn states. Whether in dar-al-Islam or narcostates or anywhere, when the culture eliminates virtue, a republic cannot sustain itself.
Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog