I’ve watched Vice TV a few times and I am always impressed by the topics taken on by a magazine made famous for Dos and Don’ts. Right now they have an amazing video up about the Holy Thug Saints of Caracas, Venezuela. In a city where more than 100 murders are logged each weekend (14,000 were murdered last year alone) people flock in droves to the cemetery to pray for revenge, protection, freedom of a loved one from jail and other daily occurrences in such an extremely violent place. Predominately Catholic, but with a large dose of Spiritism or Santeria, people give offerings and pray to Santos Malandros (Holy Thugs) instead of worshiping traditional Catholic saints. The thugs are all once real-life gangsters immortalized in statue form wearing sideways baseball caps, sporting guns, scars and gold chains. The female saints rock sports bras, doorknockers and bandanas. They all look super familiar to the line of Homie Dolls that were popular in the late 90′s sold in gumball machines. The icons have holes built into their mouths so you can insert an offering of a cigarette or a joint to them. It is understandable that these figures are more identifiable to someone afraid of being shot every day than say, a white woman in flowy robes. I was a little upset when the narrator pokes fun at the dolls and the woman in the Santeria store, but I think it is probably hard to be too serious with the Vice audience especially when covering such heavy topics. Either way, I loved this video and thought it was an interesting look into how religions are formed when people find nothing to identify with that already exists. This practice of Thug worship, called Corte Malandra has already spread to Cuba and Spain and is now growing strong in many other Spanish speaking countries. It’s not so crazy if you think that not that long ago someone started Mormonism, too. Video below.