santeria stirs debacle amongst neighbors in coral gables

August 17, 2007 § 1 Comment

I was listening to the podcasts I subscribe to from the Miami Herald through itunes. I came across this story which really got my attention. Recently, police descended upon a group of people in Noriel Batista’s home in Coral Gables. What they interrupted was a Santeria ritual to initiate Batista himself into a special order of priesthood within Santeria. Apparently, the police had been called by a neighbor who was angry about practices of animal sacrifice which are associated with Santeria.

(Crown of Oshun, from “At the Crossroads: Afro-Cuban Orisha Arts in Miami“)

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What’s striking isn’t that some people don’t agree with practices of Santeria, but that they just don’t want it in Coral Gables. As Ernesto Pichardo, a santero who won a Supreme Court case to protect religious freedoms of Santeria under the Constitution, explained, “‘it’s OK if it’s in Little Havana, or it’s all right if we do it in Hialeah,” said Pichardo. “`As long as it is marginalized, and only appears in the lower strata of society, then it’s OK.”’ 

Additionally, the right to practice Santeria is increasingly becoming about race as more African-descended people, who may not have practiced Santeria before, come into the religion as a way to connect to their roots.

This is sad to me because in Miami, which is a cultural hotbed for Latin America and the Caribbean, should be so open to these practices and ways of being. We have such an opportunity to learn about various people, practices and beliefs. I think what we’re seeing here is that people aren’t going to hide in cultural closets anymore; to be true to yourself, you don’t have to live only around people who are just like you. Unfortunately, this causes friction amongst people who think their way of being is always the right way.

Read the whole article here (only online for one week), and you can also check out more pictures and comments from readers of the Miami Herald.

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§ One Response to santeria stirs debacle amongst neighbors in coral gables

  • jonolan says:

    Animal sacrifice, as long as it is practiced without inflicting undue cruelty upon the sacrificial animal is perfectly legal in the state of Florida.

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