The influence of famed astrologer Mercado

Walter Mercado. Photo: Associated Press
By Barbara Gutierrez

Walter Mercado. Photo: Associated Press

The influence of famed astrologer Mercado

By Barbara Gutierrez
Walter Mercado, who died Nov.2, will be buried in his native Puerto Rico on Friday after two days of public viewing.

The death of famed astrologer Walter Mercado on Saturday has left a void in Hispanic communities in the U.S. and Latin America that followed his daily horoscopes and fondly remembered his flamboyant personality. 

Media tributes to him continue to flood the internet. His burial is set for Friday in his native Puerto Rico, after two days of public viewing. 

Mercado became a popular staple in Spanish-language television and radio by reading horoscopes, which he delivered with a dramatic flair. Wearing elaborate sequined capes and sporting large jeweled rings, Mercado also offered end of the year predictions and recommendations that many of his viewers would follow religiously. He explored a myriad of topics in his shows, including the history of various religions, including Buddhism and Hinduism. He ended each segment by wishing his viewers “mucho, mucho, amor” (much, much love). 

University of Miami faculty share their thoughts about Mercado:

“Growing up here in Miami, Walter Mercado was someone my grandparents were attentive to, my parents were attentive to, and consequently myself as a child. He was one of the few unifying forces among the Latino/a communities. There are so many culturally specific aspects of the Hispanic experience in the U.S. based on whether you are in Texas or California or here in Miami or Puerto Rico. Walter transcended that and he was part of all our community and part of our shared cultural landscape. Also, his ostentatious pageantry and luxury slapped in the face of how many Latinos/as are portrayed in our society.”

Michelle Gonzalez Maldonado, professor of religious studies and assistant provost of undergraduate education 

“The Hispanic community is a generally spiritual culture. We tend to believe in fate, in the spirit world, in that which cannot be seen. Walter Mercado was able to connect to the community with his talents as an astrologer, and his uplifting messages of hope.”

Anabel Bejarano, clinical assistant professor, School of Education and Human Development  

“Walter Mercado cultivated an unusual gender presentation that was accepted by the mainstream Latinx community, while he also resonated with the LGBTQI Latinx community. Growing up in Puerto Rico, I remember that everybody used to hear what he had to say about horoscopes, especially his new year’s predictions. Later on, he became an icon for non-binary and queer people, although he never came out publicly as a member of those communities. He also referred to forms of religiosity and spirituality that transcended the Catholic and protestant reduction of the Puerto Rican, Caribbean and Latinx spiritual and religious beliefs and practices. He was a complex person, with a transgressive gender expression, and a less transgressive political discourse.” 

Yolanda Martinez-San Miguel, professor and chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, Marta S. Weeks Chair in Latin American Studies 

“I recall watching Walter Mercado with my mom and dad on the sofa of our living room almost every evening. When he transitioned from TV to the paper, my mom would often times read me his horoscope. She was a big fan and believed in astrology of numbers. She would often times play numbers that Walter Mercado (and others) recommended. She won almost $20,000 in Fantasy 5, won cruises, Super Bowl tickets and $23,000 of furniture over the years!”

Guillermo “Willy” Prado, Leonard M. Miller Professor of Public Health Sciences and dean of the Graduate School