Domingo Choc Che was a Mayan spiritual guide, a medicine specialist and a traditional healer. He was murdered in his hometown of Chimay, in the Municipality of San Juan in Petén, some 230km north of the capital, Guatemala City.
He was accused of witchcraft by pentecostal Christians, tortured and burned alive.
Think on that.
Chimay is an impoverished Maya Q’echí village, made up of about 250 families. Apart from an imposing catholic chapel, the village could count on six evangelical churches. There are more churches than schools.
He practiced ‘witchcraft’, which is to say that he practiced Maya spirituality and promoted its connection with Mother Earth in the defence of life.
At the end of the 20th century, progressive catholic theology incorporated the concept of enculturation – “the process by which people learn the dynamics of their surrounding culture and acquire values and norms appropriate or necessary in that culture and world views”, talking of religious inter-culturality. One might find liberation theology as part of this enculturation.
For pentecostal theologies, there exists no possibility of recognising or even talking with the ‘other’ – indigenous spirituality. For them, there is only the one way. In Chimay, Domingo Choc Che paid the price of following his own path. An extra layer of tragedy is that the church members, and his murderers were all Q’echi, all from the same ethnic group.
What the conquistadors failed to do, in the 16th century, and the Guatemalan military in the 20th, is now falling to pentecostal Christianity to carry out – the process of culturicide, the systematic destruction of a culture. This has been in train, slowly, since the 1940s and ’50s, when evangelical Christians from the United States descended on Guatemala and the indigenous highlands. Some described them as being the vanguard of the CIA.
Domingo Choc Che was collaborating with University College London on a pharmaceutical project – working to save lives, including those of his neighbours.
The project is researching biodiversity use on Mayan medicine, in partnership with Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, alongside the Council of Maya Elders, government authorities, Indigene Biodiversity and the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species.
This included text from the UK Independant, here, and from Alainet, here. The image above, is from La Asociación de Abogados y Notarios Mayas Nim Ajpu (Association of Mayan Lawyers – Nim Ajpu).