Photo by Luis Hinojos
Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, has become known as the “murder capital of the world” thanks to the seemingly endless string of drug-cartel-related killings, and the law-abiding portion of the population is ready to try almost anything to stop the violence. For the past two and a half years, a group of teenagers calling themselves the “Messenger Angels” have been taking to the streets covered in silver paint and glitter, wearing thick white robes and huge feathered wings, and holding hand-painted signs that address the cops, the cartels, and the worst of the capos. “Zetas, ask forgiveness,” one sign read. “Cop-killers. Enough! Sincerely, Jesus Christ,” read another.
The Messengers belong to a small Christian church called Psalm 100 and are led by Carlos Mayorga, who is both a pastor and a correspondent for Milenio TV. They stand out for their fearlessness—not many people have the balls to call out the Zetas in public—and for their stark, eerie appearance.
I met the Messengers at a protest on a hot summer day outside a municipal police headquarters. One of them, named Luis, was holding a sign asking the notorious drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán to repent. He told me that some of the angels were people who were going down the “wrong path” but have become good people. Can a person who has committed as many sins as El Chapo be forgiven and find a place in heaven? “Yes, if he wanted to repent from all his evil, he could reach forgiveness,” Luis replied. “Perhaps he would not receive forgiveness on earth, but he could receive God’s forgiveness. And that is what’s most important.”
I asked Carlos, who also attended the protest, if they were afraid of retribution for decrying powerful figures in public. “We have decided to speak to them in a direct way, and we are perfectly aware of the risk,” he said. “We have been victims of some aggression by the police. I have been detained. On one occasion, when we went to protest at the municipal prison, they would not let us out of the parking lot. We’re afraid, but we trust God and we believe we are making a difference with what we are doing.”
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