They have not yet commented on the recently completed World Cup and the 7-1 defeat of Brazil by the Germans. Of course, no one would expect indigenous tribesmen from Peru to be affected in the same way as native Brazilians. Presumably, they are more interested in staying alive. The explanations as to why members of the Mashco-Piro clan left the rain forest and crossed the Las Piedras river to discover Brazilian modernity have differed. Some newspaper reports say they were forced to flee drug traffickers that, like the loggers before them, killed members of their tribe. The reports of the encounter are sourced and detailed and quote the numbers killed and how. But it has also been suggested that members of the tribe were following the seasonal movement of duck eggs.
This is only the second time that the Mashco-Piro clan has encountered the modern world. If it is all about duck eggs, you have to wonder what is happening to the ducks. There is video footage of the tribesmen but reports do not even agree about the numbers, which range from three to seven, although there are clearly more than three tribesmen in one video.
Kind and sympathetic Brazilians have been warned not to help members of the tribe and give gifts. Like the ducks, humans are not what they were. The indigenous people of South America numbered over 4 million when the settlers arrived in 1500. 250 years later there were less than a million indigenous people. Marriage between the races offered improved immunity and it happened occasionally but not enough to prevent mass extermination.
Because the ‘civilised’ carry germs and latent diseases from pollution, they can infect easily the more authentic specimens of the species. When Mashco-Piro members last appeared in the modern world 40 to 50 years ago, they said hello, caught a ‘flu type disease that caused deaths and headed back into the jungle for fresh air and some decent duck eggs. Imagine someone returning to Liverpool from London so he can have a proper pint and real fish and chips.
Today there are organisations that worry about the health and risk to indigenous tribes. They work at keeping the communities independent and remote. Unfortunately, they struggle for funding. Stephen Corry, of Survival International, said, ‘It’s vital that Brazil and Peru release funds for the full protection of Indians’ lives and lands. The economic growth of those countries is coming at the price of the lives of their indigenous citizens. Their newfound wealth must be used to protect those few tribes that have survived the on-going genocide of America’s first people.’
The 75 remaining tribes of Peru are made increasingly vulnerable by the trade in cocaine and the work of loggers. One oil company discovered an indigenous tribe and pretended that it did not exist. There will be moments of sympathy from local Brazilians but the corrupt and powerful will continue with their ambitions. No wonder the neo-liberals console their affluent selves with tales of duck eggs.
Howard Jackson has had 3 books published by Red Rattle Books. Innocent Mosquitoes describes his 11,000 mile journey around Brazil. If you want to read more about Brazil click http://bit.ly/1d4L1tz