Silvia Federici’s visit to Ecuador in 2016 called us to deepen our thinking about the continuity of the story of dispossession and persecution that occurred in Europe with the witch hunts between the 16th and 18th centuries, and that moved to the Americas through ecclesiastical powers, as well as under civil and judicial authorities.
In 2019, many of us participated in the meeting in Navarra and joined the Campaign for the memory of women persecuted for witchcraft. Since then, our group has been exploring and trying to understand this phenomenon in Abya Yala (South America). Historical witch hunts were part of the process of colonial domination and were led by the Catholic Church. Other, current manifestations of witch hunts are present in different territories and take place under various powers, who attack indigenous or Afro-descendant women, elderly or lesbian women, women of wisdom or social and environmental leaders. Control over the body and the territory (or both at the same time) appear as a persistent motivation. Various actors such as extractive companies, state agents, private interest groups, and evangelical churches, together or separately, resort to these charges to launch real “hunts” that include expropriation of land, exploitation of labor or criminalization of the resistance.