Latin American Herald Tribune
October 2, 2010

Bolivian Cops Find Man Buried Alive Accused of Witchcraft

LA PAZ – Bolivian police have found the body of a man who was buried alive in a village in the central Cochabamba region by peasants who accused him of practicing witchcraft to kill another farm worker, local media said Saturday.

According to the newspapers, the incident occurred last Aug. 20 in the community of Pajcha at some 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the city of Cochabamba, when the peasants captured Jorge Cano Rojas to make sure that “justice was done” in the death of another local resident.

After beating him, the peasants took Cano to the cemetery and buried him alive in front of his five children.

A prosecutor and 60 police managed to enter the area Friday, 40 days after the killing, to disinter Cano’s body and take it to the mortuary at Viedma Hospital in Cochabamba.

Three weeks ago a similar case occurred, also in Cochabamba, of what peasants and Indians call “community justice,” in which they tortured and buried alive three brothers they accused of killing another farm worker.

The government of the Aymara Indian Evo Morales and some indigenous organizations deny that the lynchings are “community justice,” but the peasants who make use of it claim that it is.

In recent months, the Catholic Church, the ombudsman and the United Nations have expressed their concern at the increase of lynchings in the country.

According to the country’s ombudsman, in 2010 to date there have been 20 lynchings in Bolivia, while the United Nations has counted at least 30 cases since 2009, without including 77 thwarted attempts.

Morales introduced a law in June that places “indigenous justice” on a par with the law in force for centuries, but for it to take effect it must include regulations defining the limits between that system and the law of European origin.