Shaman are traditional healers

Fourteen traditional healers have been brutally murdered in Peru in the past 20 months, allegedly at the urging of a local mayor. The Peruvian government has sent a team of investigators to look into the incidents. While 14 shaman have disappeared, the bodies of only seven have been retrieved so far; the indigenous healers were shot, stabbed or hacked to death by machete.

Protestant Sect Members Suspected

The prosecutor’s office of Alto Amazonas province stated that the alleged murders were carried out by a man known locally at the “witch hunter,” at the behest of his brother, the mayor of the town of Balsa Puerto. A Peruvian government adviser and expert on Amazon cultures alleges that both are members of a Protestant sect that claims shamans are possessed by demons and must be eliminated. The Peruvian Times reports that the shamans had been planning to form an association to share their knowledge.

Irrecoverable Loss

The shamans’ deaths go beyond a brutal crime to represent a loss of unrecoverable knowledge. NGO Amazon Watch’s Peru program director Gregor MacLennan is quoted in the Guardian: “The death of these shamans represents not just a tragic loss of life, but the loss of a huge body of knowledge about rainforest plants and the crucial role shamans play in traditional medicine and spiritual guidance in indigenous communities.”

As the U.S. government marks Columbus Day on October 10, it is disheartening that the oppression of indigenous people that began with the conquerors’ arrival back in 1492 continues to this day.

Source: Care2
Another article in the English language newspaper Peruvian Times
The article refers to protestant sects, I wish to comment that these are more likely to be evangelical sects, not protestant. In South America which is predominantly Catholic, anything not Catholic is wrongly classed as protestant, including evangelicals. This problem of identification exists all over South America. Here in Brazil even evangelicals can’t discern the difference and can’t understand it when explained to them. Having lived in Bolivia and Peru, the problem is the same there. The Peruvian newspaper La Republica reported sectas protestantes which is understandably the same mistaken belief meaning they weren’t Catholic. The evangelical churches in South America (and there are hundreds of different sects) have some really weird ideas which thrive in people who lack education.