Mexico Detains Leader Of Santa Muerte Cult On Kidnapping Charges
January 6, 2011 By Staff
Today in Latin America
Top Story — Mexican authorities announced the detainment of the leader of the Santa Muerte cult and eight other members on charges kidnapping and extortion in Mexico City.
David Romo Guillén, leader of the Traditional Catholic Church that is also known as the Santa Muerte, and the other suspects were arrested between December 18 and 20, but the arrests were not made public until this week.
Mexican authorities also allege that Romo and the eight others disguised themselves as members of the Zetas drug gang to kidnap two elderly people for ransom money. All nine members detained were placed under a form of house arrest for 30 days pending investigation.
Romo said the arrests were politically motivated and said he was tortured.
“In this pre-election time, they are moving (against) a lot of innocent people, to fill their quotas,” Romo said, adding that he didn’t even know some of the other eight suspects, The Washington Post reports.
Santa Muerte fuses elements of pre-Columbian indigenous practices and African customs with Catholicism. It has become very popular throughout the country, especially among Mexico’s drug cartels, who ask La Santa Muerte for her protection as they commit their crimes.
“While it is true that narcos and thieves and others worship her, not everyone who worships her is a criminal,” said Eva Aridjis, director of the documentary “La Santa Muerte,” according to The New York Times. “What I encountered was many sick people or people who were in danger of dying or lived in dangerous environments. Drug addicts and prostitutes but also policemen and taxi drivers.”
The Roman Catholic Church condemns the cult and La Santa Muerte is not a recognized saint, nor is Romo a recognized bishop.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Mexico’s finance minister said Wednesday that the country’s peso will be stable in 2011, even through it has recently been held back by a slow economic recovery, drug violence and politicians’ failure to pass key reforms.
- A Canadian man was arrested in the Mexican resort of Playa De Carmen for possession of cocaine and marijuana.
- Puerto Rico second baseman Roberto Alomar was elected into the the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday.
- The Dominican Republic will resume repatriations of undocumented Haitians, after suspending the practice following the Jan. 12 earthquake.
- Reconstruction has barely begun after the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti, according to a report by the U.K. group Oxfam, which criticized a recovery commission led by former president Bill Clinton.
- A female gang member was arrested in connection with the bombing of a bus in Guatemala City that left seven dead, authorities said.
- In aiming for higher educational levels among the population, the Nicaraguan government set as its main goal in 2011 ensuring that all children graduate from the sixth grade.
- Panamanian authorities seized 1,025 kilos (2,257 pounds) of cocaine in the Caribbean province of Colón, 80 kilometers (50 miles) northwest of the capital, a senior prosecutor said Tuesday.
- A cathedral in El Salvador’s capital continued to be occupied on Tuesday by a group of veterans wounded in the 1980-1992 Salvadoran civil war, who demanded an increase in their pensions and incorporation into the pension system for parents of former combatants.
- Supporters of a former Lima mayor who is among the front-runners in Peru’s presidential race spent Wednesday fending off allegations that one of his party’s two vice presidential candidates paid to get the nomination.
- Bolivian President Evo Morales was “emboldened” in his effort to nationalize his country’s energy sector by Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, who pledged technical assistance and other aid for the effort, according to leaked U.S. cable.
- Spain’s Repsol-YPF has joined an oil-exploration project in Colombia whose other partners include the local unit of Brazil’s Petrobras and Colombian state oil firm Ecopetrol, the latter company said in a statement Wednesday.
- Philip Morris International Inc. has officially ended its $452 million bid to acquire privately owned cigarette maker Productora Tabacalera de Colombia, or Protabaco, after a filing deadline with regulators in Bogota came and went.
- Former world soccer player of the year, Ronaldinho, plans to return to Brazil to play for his hometown team, Gremio of Porto Alegre, instead of signing with a European squad.
- Uruguay is worried that a new pulp mill on the River Plate might cause a diplomatic row with its neighbor Argentina.
- One of Latin America’s most notorious prisons, the Tacumbu prison in Paraguay’s capital of Asunción, will soon close due to overcrowding and more than 3,000 inmates will be moved to other facilities.
Image: David Velazquez @ Flickr.