Monsignor Rubén Darío Jaramillo Montoya of Buenaventura, Colombia, has seen enough violence plague his city — and he thinks he has a plan to turn things around once and for all.
Montoya believes that the city’s drug, gang, and corruption problems have gotten out of hand. On this year’s “feast day” for the city’s patron saint, Montoya said he’s going to take drastic measures, by flying in a helicopter above Buenaventura and spraying the city with holy water.
“We want to go around the whole of Buenaventura from the air and pour holy water onto it…to see if we exorcise all those demons that are destroying our port. So that God’s blessing comes and gets rid of all the wickedness that is in our streets,” Montoya said.
Buenaventura does indeed have a high crime problem — but things were much worse just a few years ago than they are in the present.
Much of the credit to the drop in crime is due to efforts from religious groups in the city as well as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which provided resources to residents to help them stand up to criminal organizations that developed from former paramilitary groups, The Guardian reported in 2018.
Citizens finally had the means to stand up to those organizations, refusing to pay extortions and not giving in to other violent threats.
Montoya’s plan could present a different problem, however. According to one study out of Austria, samples of holy water from a number of different churches found that 86 percent of the water examined contained fecal matter contaminants, including E. coli. None of the water was deemed potable, per reporting from ABC News at the time.
Even though he lives half the world away from where that study took place, it would probably be best if, when Montoya plans to fly above the city, he ensures the water is fresh and free of bacteria.
Featured image via Flickr