Back in February, I wrote sarcastically about the kerfuffle by some do gooders who were trying to “protect” some isolated tribes in Peru.
Yes, let them live in their paradise, untouched by modern man. Because you are protecting them from government and anthropologists and and church do gooders, no one else will bother them. (and by the way send money so we can help more folks to live theirÂ
poor and miserable traditional lifestyle.)
In my article, I pointed out that if they could get pots, they could also get disease, and I pointed out that the reality of poverty was a lot worse than they imagined, not to mention that even if the government kept out those nasty missionaries (who would start schools and clinics) and local investment (who would let them work for money) you still couldn’t keep out the criminals who cut down lumber illegally or use the jungle for growing and processing illegal drugs.
I am reminded of some (North) American Indian activists who went to south America to help locals fight oil exploration in one region. Several of these activists were killed, not by the oil companies but by the FARC related gunmen, who feared that they would prevent locals from being kidnapped to work in their drug labs.
So it wouldn’t be the first time that drug traffickers killed Native Americans.
So sure enough: the latest news is that the tribe can no longer be found.
According to tribal advocacy group Survival International, Brazilian officials can find no trace of the Indians in the area after heavily armed men ransacked the guard post in western Brazil about 12 miles (20 kilometers) from the Peruvian border…
“This situation could be one of the biggest blows we have ever seen in the protection of uncontacted Indians in recent decades,” Travassos said, referring to the possible drug traffickers. “It’s a catastrophe.”
And don’t tell me that you couldn’t forsee this might happen.
Of course, evil men are not the only threat to such lives:
Guns aren’t the only threat to uncontacted Indians. Common diseases can also kill them, because they have not built up immunity to the viruses and bacteria outside their forest home …
Well, duh. You just figured this out?
Of course, all the “ain’t it awful” articles mention that the diseases were brought there by all those evil outsiders, including scientists and do gooders.Â The implication is that if these wonderful people were left alone, this would never happen.
Yet the presence of machetes and iron pots suggest otherwise. No one is truly that isolated.
As for the idea that people were healthy: well, one doubts that among them women never died of childbirth or miscarriage, adults never were injured in accidents, or broke any bones, old folks never suffered from aches and pains, and children never died of diarrhea or pneumonia before contact with outsiders.
There is no easy answer: development causes problems, but allowing people to live in squalor so rich do gooders can admire them is also clueless.
Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines.