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News > Guatemala

Maya Leader Is Burned Alive Accused of Being a Witch Doctor

  • Mayan traditional healer Domingo Choc, Guatemala, 2019.

    Mayan traditional healer Domingo Choc, Guatemala, 2019. | Photo: Twitter/ @vichoguate

Published 9 June 2020

Domingo Choc Che was well-known internationally for his knowledge of natural medicine.

Accused of being a "witch doctor," the natural medicine expert Domingo Choc was violently killed on Saturday in the Chimay village, in the department of Peten, in Guatemala. 


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"They kept hitting him all night. In the morning they sprayed gasoline and set it on fire,” the assistant prosecutor Yulma Rojas explained.

Outlet La Vanguardia reported that "images of Choc running in flames through a field have shocked part of the Guatemalan society that asks for justice... The prosecution launched an investigation to find those responsible who allegedly tortured the victim for over 10 hours."

Guatemala's Human Rights Prosecutor Jordan Rodas condemned the murder of this Indigenous leader who was well-known internationally for his knowledge of natural medicine.

“Domingo Choc Che, who was a collaborator on a University College London (UCL) pharmaceutical project, was burnt alive,” British outlet The Independent reported

“The UCL project is researching biodiversity use on Mayan medicine... in partnership with Valle de Guatemala University, alongside the Council of Maya Elders, government authorities, Indigene Biodiversity and the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species,” it added.

The meme reads, “We demand justice. Domingo Choc, wise man, guide, and teacher. Source of knowledge and wisdom. Environmental organization Mother Forest.”

The K’iche’s Council of Indigenous Peoples described the assassination of the Mayan leader as a new demonstration of the ignorance that white society has about the original cultures of Mesoamerica.

“The murder of the spiritual guide Domingo Choc shows that political and spiritual intolerance persist. Religious fanaticism has deeply damaged communities, ”the Council said and demanded that President Alejandro Giammattei and his administration do justice.

"We need to halt the persecution against those who practice Mayan traditional medicine and spirituality," said Monica Berger, an anthropologist who worked with Domingo Choc on research projects to identify medicinal plant species that were sponsored by the University of Zurich (Switzerland), University College London (UK), and Valle de Guatemala University.

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