Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Sacrifice to rain god Tláloc in the Senate ruffles feathers

A ritual sacrifice, in which a chicken was killed as an offering to a pre-Columbian rain god, was held in an unlikely location on Wednesday — the Mexican Senate.

During the sacrificial ceremony, the chicken was killed as an offering to the god Tláloc, who was worshipped by several pre-Columbian Indigenous peoples, and continues to command a healthy respect in modern-day Mexico.

A man kneels holding a live chicken as part of a ritual sacrifice while others watch
Oaxaca Senator Adolfo Gómez (in a white shirt holding a baton) observes as the sacrifice of a live chicken is conducted in an outdoor area of the Senate complex in Mexico City on Wednesday. (Cuartoscuro)

Organized by the Indigenous Mixtec senator for Oaxaca Adolfo Gómez, the ceremony took place in an outdoor area of the Senate building on el Día de la Lluvia, or Rain Day.

While rain is desperately needed in drought-stricken Mexico, many of Gómez’s fellow senators, and others, expressed their disapproval of the Morena party senator’s attempt to invoke precipitation with the killing of a chicken in the Senate.

Video footage shows that the chicken’s head was severed by a woman dressed in traditional dress before a man enveloped the decapitated bird in ritual smoke.

Gómez — who previously found himself in the media spotlight after he refused to pay to enter the Monte Albán archaeological site because “my ancestors built it” — justified his organization of the ceremony by pointing to Article 2 of the Mexican Constitution, which sets out a range of rights for Indigenous peoples.

“There is a law above the local law. I’m referring to the second article of the constitution, … [which] expressly … respects Indigenous people’s way of living,” the senator said.

In Mexico City, where the federal Senate is located, the local animal protection law has recently been strengthened, and one article prohibits the use of animals in rituals or traditions if their “well-being” is affected by such celebrations. In addition, Senate protocols prohibit animals in the building.

Mexico's Senator Adolfo Gomez seated, raising his hand in the Senate
Oaxaca Senator Adolfo Gómez, who has been in office since 2021, is an Indigenous Mixtec. Many of his constituents claim Indigenous ancestry. (Adolfo Gómez/Twitter)

Senate President Ana Lilia Rivera, who also represents Morena, said in a statement that the sacrificial killing of the chicken was carried out “under the strict individual responsibility” of Gómez, “who justified the action under … usos y costumbres,” an indigenous governing code that translates to “uses and customs.”

She said that Gómez — who apparently smuggled the chicken into the Senate building — had been told that “the entry of any kind of animal to the building” was not allowed, “in accordance with current safety and civil protection protocols.”

“In the Senate of the Republic, intensive work has been carried out for the recognition, defense and promotion of animal rights, and for that reason, its president doesn’t support in any way the events that occurred and will take appropriate disciplinary measures,” Rivera’s statement added.

Senator Ricardo Monreal, Morena’s leader in the upper house, said that most of the ruling party’s lawmakers didn’t agree with the event organized by their colleague.

Independent Senator Emilio Álvarez Icaza also spoke out against the sacrifice of the chicken, saying “the Senate is not the place for that.”

“If it has a religious dimension or cultural spiritual dimension, it’s like coming to the Senate to hold Mass,” he said, adding that while he respects people’s religious beliefs, the Senate isn’t the place to hold ceremonies related to them.

Many social media users also criticized the killing of the chicken in the Senate, while animal rights activists protested outside the legislative building on Thursday. One animal rights organization said it would file a criminal complaint against Gómez for animal abuse.

With reports from Reforma, Aristegui Noticias, El Financiero, El Economista and La Jornada 

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