The carcass of a dead dog floats on the lake that supplies tap water to 750,000 Venezuelans. Witch doctor Francisco Sanchez has just dumped the previous night’s sacrifice from a cliff, contaminating the resource that has become more scarce than gasoline in Caracas.
The water from Lake Mariposa, polluted by sacrifices and garbage from a local cult, is pumped to a 60-year-old treatment plant that lacks the technology to make it safe for drinking, said Fernando Morales, an environmental chemistry professor at Simon Bolivar University in Caracas who has visited the site.
Eight kilometers (five miles) away from the lake, in Caracas, sales of bottled water are booming, with families paying the equivalent of $4.80 for a five-gallon jug, twice the price of gasoline.
In the meantime, witch doctor Sanchez, is left free to practice his water-polluting rituals.
“No one is bothering me here at all,” Sanchez, 42, said as he prepared a chicken for sacrifice later in the day. “I moved here two years ago because I wanted to get deeper into witchcraft. People come to worship every evening from the city.”
Obvious question: Why is he not prohibited from polluting like this? He appears very selfish and unfazed by his actions. This is causing a hardship for residents. The treatment plant can not sufficiently handle the polluted water which may contain viruses. This lake was found to contain dozens of animal carcasses when it was last examined.
Mariposa used to be a tourist destination. Today it is a haven for followers of Santeria who sacrifice animals.
In the industrialized Western world we’re lucky to have regulations that prohibit such acts and that ensure the tap water is clean enough to drink. In many cases, it’s cleaner and safer than bottled water. For such a rich country, they can’t afford the most basic human need – potable water.