Economist: Tribes go to war as Ecuador pursues development

Tribes are caught in the crosshairs as Ecuador seeks to boost logging, mining and other development in the Amazons:
Minutes before its planned release on September 25th a judge in Ecuador blocked the distribution of “A Tragedy Hidden Away”, a book detailing a massacre of 20-odd members of one indigenous Amazonian tribe, the Taromenane, by another, the Waorani. The authors, Miguel Ángel Cabodevilla, a Capuchin missionary, and Milagros Aguirre, a journalist, promptly distributed it via the internet. Faced with a public outcry over the censorship, the judge reversed her decision two days later.

That was the latest twist in the tragic tale of tribal warfare. An uncontacted, or “hidden”, tribe, the Taromenane are protected under Ecuador’s 2008 constitution. Article 57 protects the hidden peoples from “ethnocide” and blocks their territories from incursion to guarantee their rights and survival. Not, it seems, against the Waorani (who as a “recently contacted” tribe do not enjoy similar protection).

On March 24th a band of Waorani, armed with shotguns, carbines and spears, set out from the hamlets of Dikaro and Yarentaro. A week later the group found a Taromenane homestead stocked with an arsenal of spears, as well as modern objects like clothes and cans of tuna. Within 45 minutes they had massacred around 20 Taromenane, first the men, then women and children, according to Father Cabodevilla, who has seen pictures from a digital camera carried by one Wao and heard his testimony. Only two girls, aged seven and three, survived, but were taken back to the Waorani settlement, where they remain.

Get the Story:
Death in the Amazon (The Economist 11/8)

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