Secure the Soul: Christian Piety and Gang Prevention in Guatemala

By Kevin Lewis O'Neill

“I’m no longer perfect,” Mateo confessed. “Nobody is. yet I try.” Secure the Soul shuttles among the lifetime of Mateo, a born-again ex-gang member in Guatemala and the crowd prevention courses that paintings so demanding to maintain him alive. alongside the best way, this poignantly written ethnography uncovers the Christian underpinnings of critical American safeguard. within the streets of Guatemala City—amid indignant lynch mobs, overcrowded prisons, and paramilitary demise squads—millions of greenbacks empower church missions, faith-based courses, and doubtless secular safety tasks to avoid gang violence during the perform of Christian piety. With Guatemala more and more outlined by means of either God and gangs, Secure the Soul details an rising technique of geopolitical importance: nearby protection in terms of stable Christian living.

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14. 15. los angeles quema del diablo / 2 The day-by-day information / 10 Los desaparecidos / 14 Guatemala urban, Zona three / sixteen Grim reaper / 21 Prisoner shipping motor vehicle, Pavoncito / 35 Pavón / forty four Siman division shop / seventy three lodge Camino actual, Guatemala urban / seventy seven name middle signage / 107 l. a. Paloma / 128 Barey, North Carolina / 133 Captive / 159 Forsaken / one hundred eighty strolling / 183 ix I tore a web page from my computing device, earnestly titled “Field Notes. ” Mateo rolled a joint with it as we complete our beers. at the periphery of Guatemala urban, with a volcano at our backs, we sat in a park. Grainy Nineteen Nineties hip-hop track performed from his cellular phone, with an analogous tune on loop, probably for hours. Nostalgia hit. “I’m unhappy, Kev. ” Mateo pulled from the joint. His hand, the very one pinching the blunt, appeared diversified. The 818 as soon as tattooed throughout his knuckles had pale. either time and lasers have been doing the trick. His per month visits to a reinsertion application for ex–gang individuals seemed like they have been paying off. the previous sector code of his former la was once hardly ever obvious. however the numbers pale swifter than his thoughts. “Why you unhappy? ” I requested. “You’ve received an excellent activity, nice child, and Jesus. you usually speak about Jesus. ” His eyes, swollen from the weed, teared up. “I comprehend. I’m simply unhappy, bro. I omit my kinfolk again in l. a.. ” I placed my arm round him. “I comprehend, Mateo. i do know. ” The tune then stopped, yet just for a second. a similar tune, that very same goddam music, jumped off from the start. Mateo used to be correct again the place he had began. xi Prologue The streets have been on fireplace. They have been burning the satan. l. a. quema del diablo. each year, on December 7, at sundown, Guatemalans torch their trash. To purge the satan, a few say. For non secular purity, others upload. previous newspapers, stained mattresses, and damaged furniture—they set it ablaze within the streets, that's the place I stood. outdoors a small Pentecostal church, in an unplanned, undeveloped zona of Guatemala urban, I stood with a pastor. The solar had set. Thick smoke amassed whereas dozens of bonfires solid shadows throughout another way unlit streets. He used to be at the telephone with a tender girl. Her sister had simply been gang-raped on a public bus. The pastor struggled for solutions. He provided prayers. He even promised to go to the very subsequent day, on Monday; yet for now, he acknowledged, he had a provider to carry, a congregation to minister. As he spoke, the flames grew nearer. I grew to become away, in simple terms to discover myself dealing with a pink and black piñata. formed just like the satan, striking from a publish, by way of the neck, it have been lynched. His ft have been on fireplace. The church was once modest. A steel roof balanced atop 4 cement partitions, whereas outsized, overused audio system driven Pentecostal song earlier the seats and out the door. The streets looked as if it would push it again. contained in the church, tots toddled and kids ran whereas younger males sat with younger women, and outdated ladies sat with their daughters. hearth or now not, the satan or now not, it used to be Sunday evening, and so they have been at church for a carrier. women and men squeezed into the distance whereas flames licked on the home windows.

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