Survival Claims Isolated Aborigines in Danger of Extinction
By Dialogo May 29, 2009Madrid, 29 may (EFE). - One year after the NGO Survival International released photos of a few isolated indigenous groups in the interior of the Brazilian Amazon to demonstrate their difficult living conditions, the organization claims that nothing has changed in the situation of these peoples. In a report submitted to the media, Survival lamented that despite the "big media impact" that the images made on the international level, indigenous people with no contact with the rest of the world ”are still faced with extinction." A year ago, the Brazilian governmental organization National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) and the NGO revealed aerial photographs of various Indian communities in Acre, a Brazilian state near the border of Peru. At the time both organizations reported that these communities were in danger of extinction because of harassment from illegal loggers operating in the area. "The threats to their land, lifestyles, and lives shocked the public," according to Survival's report in 2009. However, the NGO said that governments, businesses, and others involved "continue to ignore their rights and invade and destroy their land with impunity." In its current report, Survival says that communities at greatest risk of extinction inhabit several areas in three South American countries: Paraguay, Brazil, and Peru. The Awá in the Brazilian Amazon, the aborigines of Rio Pardo in Mato Grosso (also in Brazil), those of the River Enviro, in Ucayali, Peru, who appeared in the aforementioned images, the Napo-Tigre in the Peruvian department of Loreto, and the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode Paraguayans are the five groups most at risk. "These are just a few of more than one hundred that exist all over the world, spread throughout South America, the Indian Ocean, and the island of New Guinea," the NGO reported. According to the international organization, they are faced with two major threats that jeopardize their survival. The most immediate is their lack of immunity to Western diseases such as influenza, chicken pox, measles, and other respiratory diseases. In that sense, Survival stated that this "catastrophic" situation has occurred repeatedly in the Amazon, and “not only in the distant past," because, he says, in 1996 at least half of the Murunahua aborigines died after their contact with illegal mahogany loggers. The violence is, according to the NGO, the second major threat because, in many cases described in the study, indigenous peoples are faced with groups of loggers who are armed and ready to "shoot them on sight." A month after the images were released, the international organization commented in the report on the controversy over the publication of a story in the British newspaper "The Observer," which doubted the authenticity of the photographs. On this matter, Survival said that in August 2008, the newspaper “printed a retraction, admitting that the article had been ‘inaccurate, misleading, and distorted,’” and clarified that the photographs were "perfectly legitimate." Finally, the NGOs repeated in the report that there are still "many governments that continue to refuse to take the simple step that would effectively ensure the survival of these peoples: to protect their territories adequately."