The official death toll in Haiti has climbed over 110,000. Many bodies have been buried or burned without being officially counted, and more will likely be found in the rubble. The total is expected to hit 200,000, maybe even 300,000.
Overwhelmed by the tragedy, the Haitian government has turned to mass graves as an answer.
That is difficult for many Haitians to accept. Although the country is 80% Catholic, about half the people practice voodoo as well. Haitians often plan elaborate funeral ceremonies with water, candles, coffee and songs. Mass graves are not considered the proper way to send off the dead.
The government has asked that bodies be placed on the side of the streets so that they can be hauled away. Trucks carry the bodies away several times a day.
Voodoo priests are now speaking out about the mass graves, stirring fears that the spirits of the undead are not settled.
“It is not in our culture to bury people in such a fashion,” Haiti’s voodoo leader, Supreme Master Max Beauvoir, said to President Rene Preval. “The conditions in which bodies are being buried is [sic] not respecting the dignity of these people.”
Haiti is a disaster. There is not much room for respect. Without saying it, Beauvoir’s criticism is rooted in the voodoo legends of zombies.
In the past, Beauvoir has criticized Hollywood’s portrayal of zombies as evil and scary.
In this New York Times article written when Beauvoir was selected head of the voodoo religion, Beauvoir lays it all out more clearly.
“On the big screen, zombies are scary monsters, Mr. Beauvoir complained, and not the carefully controlled subjects of voodoo science that he believes them to be.”
No need to worry about zombies as long as the voodoo scientists are there.
Of course, if the bodies are only dumped into mass graves to stop the spread of stench, despair and disease, how are the souls of the voodoo dead going to react?
Okay, Beauvoir is not directly predicting zombies, but read between the lines and there is plenty for the superstitious to fear. As if Haitians do not have enough to worry about, now their religious leader is stoking their fears about the dead.