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Not a good witch…

21 June 2007

… if this guy had been a REAL witch doctor, he would have done something… like turned the prosecutor into a frog or at least made the cops come down with boils… or something. Nice to report on “normal” crimes for a change. (Originally in Jornada, my translation)


Morelia, Mich. A supect who has been passing himself off as a witch and curandero was detained this morning, accused of defrauding about twenty residents of the Tierra Colorado in Hidalgo municipio, according to the State prosecutor’s office.

The prosecutor’s office said that Rafael Herrera Paniaga, 39 of Acámbaro, Guanajuato, has been traveling to different communities to offer his services as a card reader, esoteric healer and “bone-setter.”

According to the denunciations filed against him, the supposed witch came to the Tierra Colorada about a month ago, and after advertising his services, treated several residents for various ailments. He charged three thousand pesos per consulation, though he also took gold jewelry as payment.

One complaintant told authorities that during a consulatation, she was told to disrobe and close her eyes, at which time the suspect took photographs.

Also, according to reports, two adolescents, of 14 and 15 years of age, denounced Herrera for abuses.

Based on the denunciations, Ministerial Police in the aforementioned district detained the accused for presumed fraud, and seized his photographic camera and multiple objects used for “cures” as evidence.

I wish I could offer some consumer tips, but other than getting references, it’s hard to find a good witch-doctor these days.

I haven’t look at the new tax laws that the Calderón Administration is proposing, but I bet they still don’t give you a business deduction for a witch-doctor’s services. It was a legitimate expense. I worked with a company that did business with rural folks, and we had a well-recommended witch-doctor as a consultant, who didn’t charge anywhere near 3000 pesos a consultation — what a crook!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Edith permalink
    2 August 2007 3:21 am

    Practices like this even exist in Western society. I don’t want to tar all alternative healers with the same brush, but some are real charlatans whose outlandish claims rival those of any Mexican curandero. In Calvinist (!) Holland, a woman named Jomanda, gained national fame by claiming she could channel spirits who would then proceed to cure people, sometimes even by ‘operating’ on them. Her gatherings – which looked a bit like tent revivals – were always packed with people hoping for some miracle cure. A couple of years ago, after the death of one of her ‘patients’, Jomanda’s activities came to a sudden halt because the Dutch Health Inspectorate accused her of malpractice:

    Lévi-Strauss once claimed that non-Western societies are characterized by magic thinking whereas Western societies are not… he couldn’t t have been more wrong. Belief in witchcraft or alternative medecine may not be considered mainstream thinking, but it’s not absent from our society. Last but not least I would like to mention that the Catholic church also promotes magic ways of thinking, e.g. by promoting belief in miracles. Some priests still practice exorcism instead of referring those poor people to a psychiatrist. And isn’t the host – made in a bakery – supposed to be the flesh of Christ? How much more magic do you need!

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