The cartels and their false gods

Readability

The cartels and their false gods

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”?

Juli­ette points out for the need to fill the space of your soul, and she quotes Mark Steyn’s essay, The Tri­umph of Amoral Will, (empha­sis added)

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

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”?

Juliette points out for the need to fill the space of your soul, and she quotes Mark Steyn’s essay, The Triumph of Amoral Will, (emphasis added)

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