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Update: Amazon Rainforest tribe first contact with outside world could be deadly

An Amazon Rainforest tribe's first contact with the outside world means that the uncontacted Indians now face the same risk of genocide by disease and violence that has characterized the invasion and occupation of the Americas during the last five centuries, according to Stephen Cory. Cory is the director of Survival International, a London-based group that advocates for the rights of tribal peoples, and he explained that the first contact was likely made due to to illegal logging on the Peruvian side of the border.

Amazon Chief
Photo by WPA Pool/Getty Images

Illegal loggers, landowners and ranchers are invading their land and bringing disease, CBC reported on its website July 11. A team from FUNAI is already in the area to provide assistance to the contacted group in an effort to try to protect them from possible epidemics of respiratory and other diseases that isolated indigenous groups have no immunity to.

Indigenous peoples are among the poorest in the world. There are at least 5,000 indigenous groups composed of some 370 million people in more than 70 countries on five continents, although the most populated area is Latin America, according to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at the UN.

Most indigenous peoples have been excluded from decision-making processes. Many have been marginalized, exploited and subjected to force, which has caused them to become refugees for fear of persecution, leaving their places of origin, identity and language.

The Amazon River Basin is a tropical forest that stretches across nine Latin American countries and is home to hundreds of Indians. It is home to more uncontacted peoples in the world, with at least 77 uncontacted groups, according to the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI).

These people have seen their lands threatened by state and transnational forces. There are many stakeholders in the Amazon, and the governments of Ecuador, Brazil and Peru, who use the land to raise revenue for their countries.

In addition to companies engaged in the extraction of materials such as gold, tin or steel, logging or oil exploration is also common practice. These economic demands conflict with the natural home of the Indians, who many consider to be an ancient and sacred ground.

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