By Ricardo Carrere
In a world characterized by information, there are issues that have been made invisible in such a way that the vast majority of people do not know they exist. Such is the case of indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation.
In a world characterized by information, there are issues that have been made invisible in such a way that the vast majority of people do not know they exist. Such is the case of indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation. People are not even aware that some of these peoples have not yet been contacted by the mainstream society and that in other cases they are reluctant to integrate despite - or as a result - of having been contacted.
To this ignorance is added another: that the very existence of these peoples is seriously threatened by the destructive advance of "development." The roads that penetrate the forest to extract wood, oil, minerals or to promote agricultural and livestock colonization, can be classified as the roads of death for these peoples. They bring them unknown diseases for which their bodies are not prepared, the destruction of the forest that provides them with sustenance, the contamination of the waters from which they drink, bathe and fish, the confrontations with those who seek to appropriate their territory, the death of its ancient cultures.
To understand the problem, it is necessary to shed our "truths" and try to put ourselves in their place. All of us live in territories with very precise limits. They too. All of us are jealous custodians of our borders against potential or actual external aggressions. We all have our feeling of nationality, with a particular language, culture and knowledge. They too.
What would we do if a group of armed foreigners entered our territory without our authorization? The same as them: resist in all possible ways, including armed resistance. However, while we would be considered "heroic patriots", they are classified as "savages." Why? Because we are the ones who guess the resistance.
It is important to emphasize that these peoples were never asked if they wanted to be Brazilians, or Ecuadorians, or Peruvians, or Congolese or Cameroonians or Indonesians or Malays. Simply, each government (colonial or national) drew a map and determined that all the territories included within its borders "belonged" to the corresponding country or colony. It did not matter that these peoples had been living in those territories before the very creation of national states or foreign colonization. They were "nationalized" in fact.
Again the question: what would we do in a similar situation? Would we accept the imposed change of nationality or would we resist? We would surely do everything possible to remain who we are and want to be.
The difference is that these peoples are in total inferior conditions to resist the overwhelming advance of the prevailing society. That is why all of us who believe in justice have an obligation to provide them, in multiple ways, with the support they need - even if they do not ask for it - to defend their rights and to stop the silent and invisible genocide to which they are exposed.
In this sense, the first thing we can do is inform the world about their existence, as an initial step towards the goal of joining forces to defend their right to live in their territories in the way they determine, including the right not to join a society to which they do not want to belong.
Together with the above, we must do everything possible to protect their territories from external invasions linked to activities such as logging, mining, oil exploitation and colonization. This implies in the first place the legal recognition of their rights by the State and strict compliance with the legal provisions against possible unauthorized invasions. And it also implies that the State explicitly excludes these territories from its development programs.
In reality, we should not be struck by the fact that there are peoples who do not want to integrate into a society like the current one, which drives millions into poverty and hunger and destroys everything it touches (climate, forests, prairies, wetlands, soils, air). These peoples are neither poor nor ignorant. They are different and are showing enormous wisdom in wanting to maintain their isolation. In a world where so many people dream of living on an idyllic tropical island, they are trying something very similar.
But it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to defend themselves against external aggression.
Let us help them to live on their own island until the day they decide of their own free will - if they do - to integrate into the mainstream society.