Not even the dead are safe in Caracas

Posted on September 9, 2007 

Not even the dead are safe in Caracas

Skulking in the dead of night in the remote and overgrown Las Pavas section of the Southern Municipal Cemetery, robbers armed with crowbars and sledgehammers first shattered the tomb’s concrete vault and the granite marker that read, “To our dear wife and mother in heaven, Maria de la Cruz Aguero.”

The buyers of the bones are paleros, the practitioners of a black magic cult related to Santeria whose rise in popularity here is fueled by a strange brew of faith and politics.

Although most Santeria followers steer clear of the use of human remains and Satanism, the paleros embrace them. They use bones in black magic rituals in which the objective is to cast evil spells on enemies: to induce bad luck for an unfaithful spouse, a car accident for unwanted in-laws, a serious illness for a business competitor, Gonzalez said.

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