The Healer and the Witch
14 mysterious murders of indigenous healers in Balsapuerto, a remote district in Peru’s Amazon rainforest, prompted photographer Christo Geoghegan to follow the thread of a tricky investigation.
The resulting book “Witch Hunt Vol. I: the Banished of Balsapuerto” uncovers the tabloid reporting and conspiracy theories prompted by the killings, involving hitmen for hire, religious fanatics, and Balsapuerto’s sitting mayor, accused of using the healers as scapegoats to placate the outrage caused by the deaths of local children, rationally explained with malnutrition and poisoned river water.
The text examines the position of the “curandero”, a fundamental figure in remote communities with strong spiritual beliefs, underserved by modern medical facilities. Depending on shifting perceptions, “curanderos” are either healers or witches. According to writer Stephan V. Beyer, “Sorcery is political. It is profoundly emotional, having to do with resentment, fear, and hate.(...) Sorcery accusations involve alliances, negotiations, strategies - politics.”