Haiti voodoo leader urges halt to cholera lynchings of priests
(Photo: A voodoo priest walks around a believer in a trance during a ritual at a voodoo festival July 24, 2010/Eduardo Munoz)
The head of Haiti’s voodoo religion has appealed to authorities to halt the bloody lynchings of voodoo priests by people who blame them for causing the Caribbean country’s deadly cholera epidemic. Since the epidemic started in mid-October, at least 45 male and female voodoo priests, known respectively as “houngan” and “manbo,” have been killed. Many of the victims were hacked to death and mutilated by machetes, Max Beauvoir, the “Ati” or supreme leader of Haitian voodoo, told Reuters.
“They are being blamed for using voodoo to contaminate people with cholera,” Beauvoir said on Thursday. The killers accused voodoo priests of spreading cholera by scattering powder or casting “spells” and complained that local police and government officials were not doing enough to halt the lynchings and punish the killers. Voodoo is recognized and protected by the constitution as one of Haiti’s main religions.
“My call is to the authorities so they can assume their responsibilities,” said Beauvoir, who fears more attacks against voodoo devotees. Most of the lynchings occurred in the southwest of Haiti but also in the center and the north.
(Photo: A Haitian boy looks at a voodoo ceremony from inside a voodoo temple during Day of the Dead celebrations in Belladere November 2, 2009/Eduardo Munoz)
Since emerging in central regions in October, the cholera epidemic has ripped through Haiti’s poor population, still traumatized from a January earthquake. Mainly spread by contaminated water and food, the disease has killed well over 2,500 people and affected all of the nation’s 10 provinces.