Just when you thought it was safe to go outside – maintaining a safe social distance, of course – it’s not … at least not in the Mexican town of Coita. There, police are roaming the streets – in masks, of course – looking for an alleged wolfman or werewolf that has been scaring already terrified residents for days. Can things get any worse?
“Those who have allegedly seen the " werewolf " claim that he is two meters tall and "has great agility."”
"… one of the neighbors says that he could see this being jump three meters high and jump a fence."
The number of reports of a wolfman in Coita (also called Ocozocoautlain, located in the southernmost state of Chiapas) pushed this story onto the local television news and numerous media outlets. By the dates on Twitter and Facebook accounts, the reports appear to have started on or around April 11. El Sol de Chiapas reported on April 12 that the rumors spread a few days before and residents were more afraid of something paranormal disturbing their Easter celebrations than of the coronavirus, which many believe is a government hoax. However, that didn’t stop them from demanding government agents (a.k.a. the police) come and protect them from the alleged werewolf, something that finally happened after reports of gunfire.
"They confirm that the dawn of this Friday, at 02:00 hours, the police element Alfonso NN saw the "entity" that was wandering the streets of the north-east side in Barrio Nuevo."
While there are accounts of both locals and the police actually seeing the alleged werewolf, the only recordings are of howls, which can’t be positively identified, and photos of a few nebulous claw marks. However, that doesn’t stop locals from spreading rumors the entity may be a nahual – a shapeshifting human who can take the form of a wolf. This Mesoamerican folk belief comes from the word nagual, which can refer to an indigenous religious practitioner, a magician or a witch. A local pastor didn’t deny the existence – instead, he told his parishioners who believed in humans making a pact with the devil to become a nahual to put candles outside their doors.
"It is easier to be afraid of something I know than not."
Psychotherapist Dulce Bonifaz told Alert Chiapas that this is more likely a case of mass hysteria by people who don’t understand the coronavirus or COVID-19 or the lockdown and are aiming their fear at something more familiar, albeit less real – a wolfman. His proof is in previous similar cases of mass hysteria in Chiapas involving Chupacabras, and across Mexico in the late 1960s involving a Yeti. A Yeti in Mexico? That turned out to be an entity created in an advertising campaign for the launch of the Zapatería El Castor – a line of boots.
Regardless of whether there’s a wolfman, a nahual or mass hysteria caused by the coronavirus, Bonifaz says “the State must take the reins to restore this tranquility" and address the mental health and emotional security of the terrified residents of Coita.
Which do you think will happen first: the Mexican government helping Coita residents, someone capturing a wolfman on video or someone shooting a howling fool?