Witch doctors regularly dump animal sacrifices into the reservoir meant to quench the thirst, clean the dishes and wash the clothes of 750,000 Venezuelans, reported Bloomberg. As a result, citizens of one of the most dangerous, crime-ridden cities in the world, Caracas, Venezuela, can’t even take a drink of water from the tap safely.

The 60-year old water treatment plant at the reservoir lacks the ability to filter out the toxins from the putrefying carcasses. Because of this, Caracas resisdents are now paying 30 Bolivars ($4.80) for a five-gallon jug of water. Gasoline only costs 14 Bolivars, due to generous government subsidies.

The water supply of Caracas seems cursed. Practitioners of Santeria sacrifice animals and dump their bodies with impunity into the reservoir.

“No one is bothering me here at all,” local Santeria practitioner Francisco Sanchez told Bloomberg.

Santeria is a hybrid, or syncretic, religion that sprang from the animistic beliefs of West African slaves blended with the Catholicism of their Spanish captors, mixed with the surviving remnants of indigenous people’s religions.

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Although Santeria brings spiritual solace to thousands, in Venezuela, Santeria witch doctors dumping animal sacrifices into reservoirs mostly just increases the suffering of others, especially the poorest members of society.

In many regions of the developing world, people who drink water from the tap run the risk of bacterial infection or contamination from agricultural run-off and other pollutants. Many people spend a significant portion of their income on purified water to avoid the even greater cost of debilitating illness.

People who can’t afford bottled water have to find other ways of reducing their risks. For example in Honduras, people often use discarded soda bottles filled with tap water then placed those bottles in direct sun for a few days. The UV radiation from the sun kills off many pathogens, however it fails to filter out contaminants, such as animal feces.

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Numerous organizations work to distribute contaminant-removing devices like ceramic filters and solar stills to impoverished people, but despite their efforts millions still lack access to safe water.

IMAGES:  The altar of sacrifices celebrating a man’s rebirth into Santeria in Havana, Cuba (Jorge Royan, Wikimedia Commons)