Effigies of Judas will feed the flames this weekend

Judas Iscariot is remembered as the apostle who betrayed Jesus Christ with a kiss. He also is a controversial and enigmatic figure who is varingly considered possessed by the Devil, doing God’s will or even, as one Medieval manuscript has it, a person who replaced Christ on the cross.

Judas is the person who has injected 30 pieces of silver into nearly every language in the world as the price of betrayal.

All these theological complexities will be lost on the Costa Rican youngsters who take to the streets Friday to hang effigies of the damned apostle and then burn him Saturday night.

Fuerza Pública officers try to stop these excesses.They reported Wednesday that last year officers detained 54 persons participating in the traditional  quema de judas and that they confiscated 38 effigies.

The tradition is widespread. Police said there were
446 known incidents last year with 300 taking place in the central canton of Heredia alone.

There were 20 arrests in Heredia, 15 in Alajuela and eight in San José.

Part of the problem is that gangs in the street are likely to burn other things beside the effigy, including vehicles.

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