Animita is a diminutive of the Spanish word for soul. Markers of small, unofficial saints’ cults, animitas remember tragic deaths. They memorialize people taken suddenly, often as victims of auto accidents, but also in drug violence or political violence
I grew up in Culiacán, at the epicenter where the Sinaloa Cartel has its origins. I moved from Mexico 13 years ago, and I never end to get surprised every time I travel there and I see the streets and public spaces populated by all these Animitas, mainly of people killed as a result of the ongoing narco-war that is taking place in my country, where death is an everyday thing.
I might read about it in the newspaper but it’s not until I pass by these shrines that I see the human that was involved in this tragic event. I get to know a little bit about the person that died there, sometimes there’s a photo, or a candle light, sometimes a poem, a t-shirt, things that give you an idea who that person was. For me is culture, maybe cause now im an outsider, but for others, for those who live there it’s a reminder of the constant violence they are exposed to.
Not so long ago the world got shaken up by the photo of Aylan Kurdi, the syrian 3 year old boy found dead on a beach in Turkey. We got to know his name after the spreading of his photo on social media. He will be remember as the child that changed the course of the discussion about the refugees coming from Syria.