Mexico City detains holy water fighters
MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AP) -- Police in this city plagued by water shortages
people for allegedly wasting water in traditional Holy Week "baths," in which unsuspecting
passers-by are sloshed with buckets of water on the eve of Easter.
Those who engage in the centuries-old custom can be issued a warning or
fined, based on the
severity of the offense.
The 12, mainly teenagers, were taken to local police stations on Saturday,
but there was no
immediate information on what their sentences would be, the government news agency
Notimex said. Judges typically have 48 hours to rule in such cases.
The tradition was born out of a supposed religious prohibition against
bathing during Holy Week,
because being naked might give rise to lascivious thoughts.
Over the years, mischief-makers decided to oblige by giving people involuntary
Saturday of Holy Week -- with their clothes on.
City officials banned the practice several years ago as the city's water
table sank and water
from distant rivers proved insufficient for the metropolitan area's 18 million inhabitants. About 1
million residents have to depend on tanker trucks for their water because of low pressure or
Police said the message appears to be sinking in: fewer people are arrested
each year. The
practice continues mainly in the city's older, poorer neighborhoods.
However, aut horities have yet to take any action against Mexico's other,
environmentally-questionable Holy Week tradition: the burning of papier-mache figures known
as "Judas." The figures represent cardinal sins like sloth or gluttony, or unpopular political
figures, who this year included President Bush.
Stuffed with fireworks, the figures are strung above streets and set ablaze;
dense smoke adds to the city's stubborn air pollution problem.
Copyright 2003 The Associated Press.