Ousted Venezuelan governor threatens government with shamanic curse

Reuters News
Posted: May 09, 2017 5:22 PM

By Diego Oré

CARACAS (Reuters) - An ousted opposition governor from Venezuela's Amazonas state vowed to put a shamanic curse on leaders of the country's socialist government on Tuesday, threatening "torment" for those who barred him from holding public office.

Liborio Guarulla, an indigenous leader who has governed the state of Amazonas since 2001, is the second high-profile opposition politician to be banned from elected office this year following former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles.

"I will summon my ancestors, my shamans, so that the curse of the dabucuri falls upon those people who have committed this evil," said Guarulla, a 62-year-old lawyer, speaking in a broadcast on the Periscope video platform.

Guarulla, rhythmically shaking maracas, was joined in the broadcast by Capriles. By dabucuri, he was apparently referring to a ritualistic form of punishment invoking malevolent spirits.

"I assure you that (those responsible) will not die without torment. I assure you that before they die, they will suffer and their souls will wander through the darkest and most pestilent places before they are able to close their eyes."

Under the ruling Socialist Party, the national comptroller can bar politicians from holding office due to allegations of "administrative irregularities" in the use of government funds.

In April, the comptroller barred Capriles from holding office for 15 years, citing accusations that he broke contracting laws and improperly managed donations from the Polish and British embassies.

Guarulla, who held up a letter he said was from the comptroller's office, did not give details of its decision to remove him from office or when it took effect. The comptroller's office did not respond to a request for comment.

Opposition leaders have called the comptroller's ban an arbitrary measure that allows the Socialist Party to cut short the political careers of its adversaries. The government maintains it is strictly meant to fight corruption.

In addition to Capriles and Guarulla, the measure has been applied to jailed activist Leopoldo Lopez, one of Venezuela's most prominent opposition leaders.

Critics of President Nicolas Maduro accuse him of leaning increasingly toward autocratic rule. He is deeply unpopular due to an economic crisis that has left millions struggling to eat and fueled runaway inflation.

The former bus driver and union leader says his government is the victim of an "economic war" led by his adversaries with the help of Washington.

Venezuela has a large indigenous population, concentrated in the state of Amazonas and along the border with Brazil in Bolivar state.

(Writing by Girish Gupta; Editing by Brian Ellsworth and Tom Brown)