Fact Check: Brazilian Indigenous Leader Did NOT Conduct A Pagan Ritual To Summon Demons Or Cast Spells On WEF Participants

Fact Check

  • de: Ioana Burtea
Fact Check: Brazilian Indigenous Leader Did NOT Conduct A Pagan Ritual To Summon Demons Or Cast Spells On WEF Participants No Witchcraft

Did Putanny Yawanawá, an indigenous leader from Brazil, perform a pagan ritual aimed at summoning demons and casting spells on participants before a World Economic Forum (WEF) session on climate in January 2024? No, that's not true: The spiritual leader invited those present to come together to protect and heal the planet, after which she performed a blessing.

The claim originated from a video (archived here) published on TikTok by user @tonyberbece on January 23, 2024, under the title, translated from Romanian into English by Lead Stories staff: "Pagan ritual at a Climate & Nature session at World Economic Forum 2024." It opened, as translated:

People, open your eyes! Open them wide! Nothing good will come from these people. At the WEF - the people who gather to decide our fates, what we eat, what wars we wage, what bugs they're preparing for our menus, and which farms they're tearing apart because of pollution - they called a shaman, a woman, who threw all kinds of spells at them. Look at her eyes, her costume, her make-up. I listened to her so-called speech in an unknown language, throwing around incantations and demonic summonings.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2024-02-02 at 14.40.55.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Fri Feb 2 12:51:45 2024 UTC)

The speaker featured in the video is Pastor Toni Berbece (archived here), a fundamentalist Pentecostal known for his outspoken anti-Western and anti-LGBT+ rhetoric (archived here). Berbece is known also for advocating the defense of Romanian sovereignty and fostering a national "awakening." Addressing a huge gathering (archived here) at Romania's largest stadium in April 2023 during a "prayer" event, he vehemently criticized sexual education in schools as well as abortion, urging participants to openly defend their faith.

Berbece, a prominent social media personality (archived here), alleged on TikTok that indigenous leader Putanny Yawanawá conducted a demonic ritual at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos on January 17, 2024, likening her spiritual practices to occult activities. However, there is no substantiated evidence supporting this claim.

According to the WEF's website (archived here), Putanny Yawanawá, the wife of Chief Nixiwaka Yawanawá, holds a significant position as an indigenous leader. She was among the pioneering women of the Yawanawá nation who received the highest spiritual initiation conferred by the elders. Through her journey, she paved the way for other Yawanawá women to follow suit, a possibility previously restricted. This act marked a departure from tradition, earning her recognition from the Brazilian senate. Putanny resides in the Sacred Village and is actively involved in organizing spiritual retreats.

The spiritual leader was not invited to the Davos session to perform a demonic ritual. She sang tribal songs (archived here), in addition to sending a message (archived here) about the healing of the planet before a session about climate change and nature. The WEF noted:

Indigenous leaders from around the world are attending the World Economic Forum's 2024 Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland to share their unique perspectives in charting a way forward. From speaking on the balance of nature and economies to reconciling cutting-edge technologies with Indigenous knowledge, this year's intergenerational cohort of Indigenous leaders will join a range of sessions reflecting the perspectives of long-standing and next-generation leadership.

  Ioana Burtea

Ioana Burtea has worked in journalism for over 15 years. She started her career at Mediafax news agency in Bucharest and has written for DoR magazine for over seven years. Her collaborations include publications like Europe & Me, New Eastern Europe, Balkan Insight and Washington Post. Ioana published pieces on the justice system in Romania, social affairs, politics and personal essays. In 2018, she became a fellow of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network. In 2021, she received the first prize in the Portrait category at the national Superscrieri journalism awards. Her first non-fiction book, Fara instructiuni de folosire (transl. No operating instructions), was launched in 2023. 

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