Culture

10 Folk Religions You Didn’t Know Existed In Latin America And The Caribbean

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As we all know Latin American countries skew pretty religious. In fact, more than 80 percent of people in Latin America have a religious affiliation, which usually is to the Roman Catholic church. However, there is a small percentage of people, particularly in Brazil and Cuba, that practice folk religions. Some of the religions have been denounced by larger religions as demonic. Here are ten folk religions that have grown in popularity throughout Latin America.

1. La Santa Muerte

Credit: La Santa Muerte. Digital Image. El Diario de Chihuahua. October 27, 2017.

La Santa Muerte (The Holy Death) has one of the fastest growing followings in Latin America. It has 10 to 12 million followers worldwide. Indigenous communities have worshipped La Santa Muerte since the 18th century. It wasn’t until the 1940s that the saint went mainstream in Mexico City and Catemaco, Veracruz.

In order for La Santa Muerte to give you what you want, she will take something away from you.

Credit: Rezos. Digital Image. Vice. November 1, 2016.

La Santa Muerte is considered to be an angel by many. People devoted to her present offerings in return for her protection and help. Many say the purpose of La Santa Muerte is not to wrong people but to help them thrive. Most Catholics/Christians consider her to be a narco-satanic figure, the Vatican has even condemned those who worship her.

2. Santería

Credit: Altar Santero. Digital Image. Vice. April 12, 2014.

Santería is one of the many Afro-Caribbean religions in Latin America that were brought to America by enslaved Nigerian people during the slave trade. It is considered to be a mix between Catholicism and Yoruba. Santería is a divinatory religion that provides people with the means to possess an understanding of reality in the present and to predict future events.

They focus on rituals and practices instead of prayers.

Credit: Ritual Santero. Digital Image. Steemit. August 7, 2016.

Unlike the cult of La Santa Muerte that believes in a Catholic God, santeros (those who practice Santería) believe in Olodumare as the God who created the universe. Santeros claim that Santería is the use of white magic and not black, contrary to popular belief. They communicate with Orishas, the equivalent of Saints, through rituals and offerings (such as animal sacrifice) to get their protection.

3. Niño Fidencio

Credit: Ritual Fidencista. Digital Image. Factor . June 24, 2017.

El Niño Fidencio is probably the most famous Mexican healer. He was known to use shards of broken glass bottles to take out the evil that was hurting his patients. He stayed in rural areas where there was almost no drinking water available. He allegedly cured people with mud from puddles nearby and this practice has become part of the modern rituals.

People traveled from around the world to visit Fidencio for healings.

Credit: El Niño Fidencio. Digital Image. Mexico Unexplained. April 17, 2017.

It’s been mentioned that 10,000 Cubans tried to cross the ocean to see him. Fidencio was also visited by a Mexican President and even the King of Spain. At the end of his life, he moved to Espinazo, a lonely train station in Northern Mexico, which eventually became populated by 15,000 people seeking his help.

4. Haitian Vodou

Credit: Vodou Altar. Digital Image. EuroNews. November 2, 2017.

Haiti is mostly Catholic but Vodou is considered to be the National Religion. Around 7 million Haitians practice it in some way. Voodooists consider this cult as an extension of Catholicism but many think this practice is sorcery and worship of the devil. Those who practice this faith say Vodou is a domestic cult that serves the family spirits and worships God. They also mention that in Vodou there is no devil, just angry spirits.

Families give offerings to family spirits for protection and thanks.

Credit: Vodou Ritual. Digital Image. The Daily Mail. March 28, 2016.

Family spirits, called Loua, protect the children and, in return, families must honor them with rituals and offerings. Louas only have power over their own family. They can appear in dreams and trances during Vodou rituals. When Louas appear they usually come to warn their families of illness and misfortune. Vodou is a faith that honors the dead above all, so it’s no surprise that they’re constantly celebrating their dead by decorating their tombs and performing rituals.

5. Maria Lionza

Credit: Walking on Fire. Digital Image. Sputnik. March 28, 2016.

Maria Lionza was a Venezuelan indigenous princess believed to manifest herself in the form of a blue butterfly after her death. Her cult dates back to the 15th Century before the Spanish conquest. And as most folk religions in Latin America, the cult to Maria Lionza is a mix of Catholic, Indigenous and African beliefs, including Santería and Vodou. The practice of this faith was legalized during Hugo Chavez’s presidency.

Her presence and power in Venezuela has touched half of the population through various rituals.

Credit:  River Rituals. Digital Image. Feature Shot. July 11, 2016.

People usually go to her to ask for good health, love, and success. Some of the best-known marialioncero (people who practice the faith) rituals walk on burning coal, dance on broken glass and include animal sacrifice. Such rituals have 3 major purposes: healing, divination, and possession.

6. Candomblé

Credit:  Pilgrimage. Digital Image. Sul21. May 21, 2014.

Candomblé is an Afro-Brazilian religion practiced by almost 2 million people, predominately in Brazil. It was brought to Brazil during the 16th Century by enslaved people from Africa. Practitioners honor Orixás, which spirits assigned to each person. They control people’s destiny and protect them. A Candomblé mass can include music, animal sacrifice and spirit possession.

Candomblé, like so many other religions, was a way for African slaves to continue practicing their own faith while disguising it in Catholicism.

Credit:  Candomblé Rituals. Digital Image. Hakai. March 29, 2016.

They worship many gods and don’t recognize the existence of heaven or hell. They’ve incorporated Catholic symbols and images, such as the cross but allow women to be priestesses and fully accept homosexuality. Candomblé is considered as the most tolerant and accepting religion by many people who practice or are aware of it.

7. Jesús Malverde

 

Credit:  Malverde. Digital Image. Proceso. May 3, 2017.

He’s called the Mexican Robin Hood. The legend says that back in the 1800s, Malverde was a most-wanted bandit with a large bounty on his head. After being wounded by a hunter and escaping from captivity, he died of gangrene. Before dying, he told one of his fellow bandits to turn him into the sheriff’s office to collect the ransom and use that money to help the poor.

His legend has led to him becoming a major figure for the narco scene.

Credit: Malverde Procession. Digital Image. El Comercio. May 4, 2018.

He’s the Patron Saint for drug dealers. There are 3 chapels honoring Malverde, one in Cali, Colombia, another in Culiacán, Mexico and the 3rd one in Los Angeles. People know this route as “La Ruta de la Coca“ (The Cocaine Road). On the anniversary of his death, people take out his statue out of the chapel and place it on the hood of a brand new car and take it for a spin around town. They hang gold necklaces around his neck and pour whiskey over his head.

8. Rastafarianism

Credit: Rastafari. Digital Image. FNND. July 30, 2015.

Rastafarianism is the newest religion on the list. It was founded in Jamaica back in the 1920s-1930s and today has around 1 million followers. Rastafari is based on Judaism and Christianity and many of their practices are based on the Jewish Law. The religion’s international recognition grew exponentially thanks to the music of Bob Marley.

Rastafarianism is not only a religious movement, it’s also political.

Credit: Rasta. Digital Image. The Gleaner. August 21, 2012.

Its purpose is to provide a voice to the poor Black people in Jamaica and become a resistance against oppression. Practitioners believe that they are God’s chosen people according to their re-interpretation of the Hebrew Bible. They believe the Messiah is Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia whose actual name is Ras Tafari Makonnen.

9. La Difunta Correa

Credit: Rasta. Digital Image. The Gleaner. August 21, 2012.

María Antonia Deolinda Correa, better known as La Difunta Correa, is a symbol of a popular cult in Argentina. The legend says that back in the mid-1800s Maria decided to leave home with her child in search of her husband that left for the war. While she was following the troop’s footsteps in the mud she got lost and decided to rest under a tree uphill. With no water left in her canteen she died of dehydration. A few days later some peasants found her baby still alive as she kept breastfeeding him after death.

Her legend has grown to include several temples throughout Argentina.

Credit: Rasta. Digital Image. The Gleaner. August 21, 2012.

The first chapel was created over her tomb by a farmer who found 500 cows he lost after praying to her. Now, there are many chapels all over Argentina and people pray for her help. As an offering, they bring bottles of water so she’s never thirsty again.

10. Palo Mayombe

Credit: Rayamiento. Digital Image. yagbeonilu. October 3, 2015.

Palo Mayombe is a religion that originated in Cameroon. Some call it the dark side of Santería and one of the most powerful forms of black magic in the world. However, people devoted to the faith say it has nothing to do with black magic. In fact, they say Palo Mayombe is completely based in the magic forces found in nature, like those of herbs, stones, soil, sticks, water, even the sun and the moon.

The religion is very secretive and the teachings are guarded and only told to those becoming spiritual leaders.

Credit: Ngangas. Digital Image. yagbeonilu. October 3, 2015.

To be a member of the faith people need to go through an initiation ritual called “Rayamiento.” To be able to do it you first need the approval of a “Nganga,” which is a herbalist or spiritual healer. Little is known about this religion as all the information is under protection by the priests and only passed down from generation to generation.


READ: Aja’s ‘Brujería’ Is The Anthem For All Of The Brujas Who Are Just Living Their Best Life

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Taco Bell Has Killed Off A Fan Favorite Menu Item, Leaving Its Fans Hungry And Heartbroken

Culture

Taco Bell Has Killed Off A Fan Favorite Menu Item, Leaving Its Fans Hungry And Heartbroken

@tacobell / Twitter

We all have our guilty pleasures. Let’s be real. Especially when it comes to food. I know there are at least a dozen things I eat in secret that if anyone were to find out about, I’d be humiliated. 

Many of those foods are from the world of fast food. Because, in all honesty, it’s not the healthiest out there and in this world of ‘clean eating’ and fad diets, few of us want to admit just how much we like certain things from their menus. 

One chain that’s often demonized for having inauthentic food is Taco Bell. People love to hate it. But, it seems like people love at least one thing from their menu and now that’s it’s leaving, people are not having any of it. 

Taco Bell has announced they’ll no longer offer the beloved Cool Ranch Doritos Loco Taco.

In a press release, Taco Bell announced that they will be trimming down their menu in what the chain describes as “decluttering a closet.”

Except: They’re making a critical error in eliminating one of its tacos. On Sept. 12, nine items will be excised into the Taco Bell menu graveyard, and one of those will be the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos. And according to many many people on across the Internet, this is a huge mistake. 

To some, it’s a subjective fact that Cool Ranch Doritos are the ne plus ultra of salty snacks. One Twitter user even said of the tacos, “It is vaguely reminiscent of Mexican elotes, which has grilled corn with lime juice acid and creaminess from the sour cream/mayonnaise.” 

Can’t say we agree with that but there definitely seems to be a bit of a cult following for these tacos, all of whom are mourning the loss of this beloved taco. 

People on Twitter weren’t having any of this news.

One abuela on Twitter said, “My granddaughters are in open revolt at the moment.” Them and the rest of the world.

To many, it was literally the worst thing that could happen to them.

OK…I’m all for drama and theatrics but let’s not lose our heads here. It’s an artificially flavored taco shell that’s being taken away. Not your first born. Or your fur baby. Or our beloved Maluma. It’s a Doritos taco. Let’s remember that. 

Many wondered what they’d eat when they’ve got the munchies or are drunk and hungry.

I’m pretty sure when you’re drunk, you’re not gonna really care so much. 

Ok, so the Cooler Ranch Doritos Tacos are gone but so are several other Taco Bell classics.

Here are the foods going bye-bye: Beefy Mini Quesadilla  Chips & Salsa Chipotle Chicken Loaded Griller  Double Decker Taco  Cool Ranch Tacos  Fiery Doritos Locos Tacos  Double Tostada  Power Menu Burrito XXL Grilled Stuft Burrito In our article, we ranked the Double Decker Taco as number 9, and the Cool Ranch & Fiery Doritos Locos Tacos as No. 11, so needless to say Taco Bell fans are pretty depressed

In Taco Bell’s defense, the company says it’s all about upgrading the menu. 

First it was the believed Caramel Apple Empanada which was discontinued and it’s removal shocked many fans of the flakey dessert. But Taco Bell wasn’t doesn’t surprising diners. Over the course of the next few months, the chain introduced spicy nacho fries and hash-brown stuffed burritos. Now, it’s back at it again… with a total revamp.

Beginning September 12, Taco Bell is drastically changing its menu. The company explained its decision in a press release on Wednesday, by first asking customers if they’d ever “had that moment… where you just want to chop all your hair off, buy new clothes and get a fresh, new start?” A million readers nodding hesitantly, clutching their Double-Decker Taco as they continued reading. “Well, we kind of did a thing…” 

And the thing they did was remove the double-decker taco, along with eight other menu items. The company also gave the menu a new look and updated combo orders.

The company will now also offer entirely new combos.

Credit: Taco Bell

These combos could do some serious damage to the stomach…two chicken chalupas supreme?! That’s a whole lot of food their Taco Bell. 

And the menu itself will have an entirely new look and feel.

Credit: @tacobell / Twitter

Not too shabby. I’m feeling the cleaner design and simple images. 

The big menu revamp isn’t just shocking and tragic (RIP Cool Ranch Doritos Locos), but also kind of unusual. Typically, T-Bell doesn’t want to draw attention to foods it deems unworthy of keeping around anymore, like the aforementioned Caramel Apple Empanada and everyone’s childhood favorite order, the Meximelt, which the company quietly discontinued earlier this year. 

However, Taco Bell does like to routinely make a big deal out of taking away your favorite orders — like the ever-popular Nacho Fries — just so that you miss them and buy them like crazy when upon their eventual return (sound familiar?!). Maybe one or more of the newly axed offerings will rise from the dead some day. 

Amid the drama and heartache, many in Twitter were calling for a moment of silence for the fallen menu items.

Alright, take your moment and then let’s get back to reality. 

A Cuban-American Man And Mexican Woman Led One Of The Most Violent Satanic Cults In The 1980s

no pos wow

A Cuban-American Man And Mexican Woman Led One Of The Most Violent Satanic Cults In The 1980s

@M_D_Podcast / @traslasrejas13 / Twitter

Satanic cults with a pension for ritualistic killings have long existed in the terrified imaginations of people around the world. They exist in urban legend but rarely are they proven to be real. However, one such cult did exist in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, and they would go on to claim 15 lives between 1986 and 1989. The cult was led by Cuban-American Aldofo Constanzo and Mexican Sara Aldrete. Among their victims is Mark Kilroy, an American pre-med student at the University of Texas at Austin. Kilroy was down in Mexico with friends for Spring Break when he was kidnapped and murdered by the cult in one of their final ritualistic murders. Here’s the story of the gang dubbed Los Narcosatánicos.

Sara Aldrete and Adolfo Constanzo led a bloodthirsty, drug smuggling Satanic cult in the 1980s in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico.

CREDIT: Mily Martell / YouTube

In 1989, Constanzo and Aldrete were 26 and 24, respectively, when police figured out that the two were behind a string of killings dating back to 1986.

Constanzo was a Cuban-American born and raised in Miami by a practicing santera.

CREDIT: Mily Martell / YouTube

Constanzo followed in his mother’s footsteps and began practicing  santería. As he got older, Constanzo dabbled with darker, more extreme forms of witchcraft and satanic worship. It wasn’t long until he began to explore a dark side of Palo Mayombe, a form of santería with roots in the Congo.

Aldrete is a Mexican national born in Matamoros who was a student at Texas Southmost College at the time of the murders.

CREDIT: Mily Martell / YouTube

Aldrete had dated Constanzo before he came out to her as gay, according to former Brownsville Deputy Sheriff George Gavito. Rolling Stone reports that it was only after meeting Aldrete that Constanzo’s violence against random people began to escalate.

Aldrete and Constanzo formed the cult that came to be called Los Narcosatánicos. They operated just across the river from Brownsville, Texas, smuggling drugs and killing people in sacrificial rituals.

CREDIT: Google Maps

According to The New York Times, Los Narcosatánicos claimed that by performing the ritualistic killings the group would be protected from the police. Members of the cult also told authorities that Constanzo, known to them as El Padrino (The Godfather), said the killings would make them invincible to bullets.

The streets of Matamoros, a popular destination for college students, proved to be a good place to find victims for the cult.

CREDIT: Mily Martell / YouTube

Many college students would venture into Matamoros for Spring Break and long weekends. The drinking age was lower than the U.S. and getting into Matamoros from Brownsville was easy to do on foot.

It was the disappearance of The University of Texas at Austin pre-med student, Mark Kilroy, that would eventually bring the cult down.

Mark Kilroy was in Matamoros in March 1989 during Spring Break. According to PEOPLE Magazine, Kilroy was staying with three friends in South Padre Island, Texas, about 20 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. On the first night of their stay, the friends made their way into Matamoros for a night of drinking and celebration. That first night ended without incident and the four friends made their way back to their lodging. March 14, 1989, their second night out in Matamoros, would be a fateful night. After drinking until 2 a.m., Kilroy and his friends started walking back to the border. Their car was parked on the U.S. side. The group walked in twos, with Kilroy and his friend, Bill Huddleston, lagging behind.

During the walk, Rolling Stone reports that Huddleston ventured off to pee, leaving Kilroy alone on the street. When he returned, Kilroy was gone. Huddleston reunited with the two other men on the trip. When they didn’t hear from Kilroy the next morning, they knew something was wrong and went to the police.

Four weeks after Kilroy went missing, Mexican authorities had a break in the case.

CREDIT: Mily Martell / YouTube

In early April, police apprehended Elio Hernandez Rivera, 22 at the time, for running through a police checkpoint with marijuana in his possession. Hernandez Rivera told the police names of different drug dealers and even led them to Rancho Santa Elena where the cult carried out their murders, according to Rolling Stone. At first, the authorities believed they were on a drug bust but after showing Hernandez Rivera a photo of Kilroy, things took a sickening turn. Hernandez Rivera confirmed that Kilroy had been to the property and was buried there.

Four cult members assisted the police in uncovering the bodies of the cult’s victims who were buried in Rancho Santa Elena.

CREDIT: Mily Martell / YouTube

In the case of Kilroy, the first thing found was his brain, which was found in a black cauldron after having been boiled in blood with a turtle, spinal column and a horseshoe. Hernandez Rivera told authorities that Constanzo, who had named him second-in-command, told the cult to abduct an Anglo for the ritual to achieve the necessary outcome. Kilroy was lured away by a man who spoke English and was pulled into a truck and driven to the ranch.

Police learned that Kilroy was killed with a single machete blow to the back of the head.

The New York Times notes that Kilroy tried to escape after 12 hours in captivity and was killed by Constanzo in retaliation for his trying to escape. Kilroy was then dismembered and used in a sacrificial ritual to further protect the cult from police and physical injury. On Rancho Santa Elena, Constanzo set up one of the buildings was set up as a shrine to the murder of his victims. In disgust, the shrine was burned by authorities.

In total, the cult claimed 15 lives from the U.S. and Mexico.

CREDIT: Mily Martell / YouTube

Most were dismembered and brutalized after their death. The discovery of the bodies sent residents of Matamoros into a panic as rumors of retaliation spread, according to Rolling Stone. There was a fear that cult members would take their revenge by abducting children for their human sacrifices, but no such abductions occurred.

Two weeks after Rancho Santa Elena was discovered and investigated, police learned about Constanzo’s Mexico City hideout. They surrounded it and a shootout ensued.

CREDIT: Mily Martell / YouTube

Once Constanzo knew that the police had surrounded his apartment building in Mexico City, he snapped. He burned money on the stove and started throwing money out of the window while shooting at passersby. Police returned fire and quickly advanced into the apartment to put an end to Los Narcosatánicos.

In his last act against police, Costanzo ordered he and his boyfriend killed.

CREDIT: Mily Martell / YouTube

Rolling Stone says Aldrete denies having any knowledge of the killings that took place at Rancho Santa Elena, only learning about them through news reports. She claims she was treated like a prisoner by cult members. Aldrete was eventually tried and convicted of several murders and drug smuggling. She was sentenced to 10 years for the drug charges and another 50 years for the murders with a possibility of being released after 25 years.

READ: Here’s How An East LA Neighborhood Brought Down One Of America’s Most Notorious Serial Killers

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