Colombian Mayor Enacts Curfew to Protect Teens from 'Evil Spirits'
Inocencio Pérez, mayor of the northern Colombian city of Pajarito, declared that all minors under 17 years of age be subject to a curfew following a series of what he considers attacks by "evil spirits" invoked using the popular social media application Whatsapp.
Since mid-November, authorities have registered a number of disturbing behaviors from young adults in the area, including threats of jumping off of bridges, lacerations, fainting, and speaking in a number of different voices; so far, upwards of 15 teens between the ages of 15 and 17 have been affected, according to at least two local media outlets.
The teenagers’ aberrant behavior began after a game where they were issued various challenges through Whatsapp, including one challenge involving the invocation of spirits that appears to have unleashed a kind of collective hysteria that some associate with demonic possession.
The curfew bans the transit and movement of children and adolescents between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m., unless accompanied by a parent.
"I made that decision based on the red alert cases that were being presented," Pérez said. "Some children said they were going to commit suicide, they spoke incoherently that 'because the time had come for them, they were going to jump off a bridge.'"
Pérez maintained that parents need to "take over" their children to avoid continued aberrant behavior, and that the curfew was a decision he made after consulting the police, legal assistants of the mayor's office, and psychologists.
"There are parents who have thanked me, but there are some children who are in a bad mood," said the mayor.
"For now everything is uncertain, because I believe that the children blocked their cell phones and threw out the notebooks where the orders were supposed to be signed. So, we have to go to the police to investigate the situation, because [the children] are afraid to speak. They believed that it was a game but the situation got out of hand, so I [enacted the curfew] so that they are not left alone," he explained.
The curfew is expected to be indefinite, barring resolution of the issue, and the parents of any children caught outside during the banned hours will be issued a fine.