‘Massacre’ of Uncontacted Tribe in Peru Revealed in New Reports

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By Megan Gannon

 

An indigenous tribe living near the Brazil-Peru border may be facing violent attacks from illegal loggers and drug traffickers who are exploiting the densely forested region, according to an advocacy group.

After years of living in isolation from the outside world, several young members of this “uncontacted” tribe recently entered a nearby settled community in Brazil. Through interpreters, they told harrowing stories about their encounters in the forests.

“The majority of old people were massacred by non-Indians in Peru, who shot at them with firearms and set fire to the houses of the uncontacted,” an interpreter named Zé Correia reported through Survival International, a group that advocates for tribal people’s rights. “They say that many old people died, and that they buried three people in one grave. They say that so many people died that they couldn’t bury them all and their corpses were eaten by vultures.”

In late June, a few members of the tribe emerged from the forest and voluntarily made contact with Ashaninka people in the village of Simpatia, in Brazil’s Acre state. FUNAI, Brazil’s indigenous affairs department, released a video clip of this initial contact today (July 31) that shows young tribe members exchanging bananas and other goods.

FUNAI representatives learned that these people had walked several days to Simpatia from their home turf within Peru’s borders. Most of the tribe members appeared healthy at first. But after several visits to Simpatia, some showed flu-like symptoms. Earlier this month, seven of them were treated for acute respiratory infections.

Brazilian officials have gleaned that this tribe has had sporadic encounters with non-Indians, which have resulted in “terrible losses,” said Fiona Watson, a researcher and field director with Survival International. These indigenous people also had a gun, some screws and other items that they may have purloined from non-Indians, perhaps from a logging camp, Watson told Live Science.

Her organization “is extremely concerned about their health, about possible future attacks, and about the reports from the uncontacted that some of their community were killed at the hands of non-Indians and their homes set on fire,” Watson said in an emailed statement. She added that the organization is also worried about the ability of the Brazilian and Peruvian governments to contain a future epidemic in the region. Uncontacted people are particularly vulnerable to diseases, such as malaria and the flu, against which they have no immunity.

8 COMMENTS

  1. I apologize, in advance, if this comment is too tangential. The suspected perpetrators of the violence in this case are illegal loggers and drug traffickers. The humanitarian crisis in Central America causing a wave of immigrants to pour across the Southern US Border this summer is, according to reports from numerous news gathering agencies, also the fault of illegal drug traffickers. It is long past time for policy makes to take a long, hard look at all of the unintended consequences of drug prohibition. We are allowing the most ruthless and well organized criminal organizations in the world to have unfettered control of an international market worth billions and it is lining their pockets. Even those whom have had no formal contact with society are effects by the narcotics trade. So sad that the first contact made with these indigenous people had to be under such horrific circumstances.

    • It’s strange that right wind conservatives, who believe the free market can solve all problems on the planet, global warming, acid rain, ozone hole, tobacco smoking, etc… have such a blind spot to this obvious solution. They go off their brains if you mention people using drugs for recreational purposes, as that down the Chablis and suck on their cigarette.

      Drug production and trafficking is only attractive because it is prohibited, which forces prices to extremes. Classic supply and demand maths out of economics 101. Governments should intervene in the market, produce recreational drugs, or high purity and dosage, and grossly undercut the organized crime market, which will collapse overnight, and remove one intrusion on these tribal innocents, the narc-trafficker. It still leaves the organized crime of illegal logging for which I have no immediate overnight solution.

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