The Thug Court

August 22nd, 2011 | researchmaterial

Somewhere between Mexico’s Santa Muerte and Jesus Malverde, I guess: interesting story, that in its latter parts sketches out some scary self-induced-delusion stuff, people desperate to wear fiction as a shield because nothing else works:

As Venezuela’s urban crime rate soars, devotion to a very particular group of saints known as the “Santos Malandros”, or “Corte Malandra”, is becoming widespread. These “holy thugs” wearing dark sunglasses, baseball caps and guns tucked in their belts might have been petty criminals during their lifetime, but are now considered modern-day Robin Hoods.

(photo: Ronald Rivas Casallas)

The dozen or so members of the “thug court” have two things in common: they were all small-time crooks who died in the 1960s and 70s, and came to be respected because – legend has it – they never robbed in their neighbourhoods and always shared their pillage with the people in need around them. Even though their devotees have been often stigmatised as thieves and prostitutes, the reality is that more and more ordinary Venezuelans have turned to these peculiar saints to ask for protection…


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  1. You can find Warren on Twitter: @warrenellis