Friday, March 21, 2014
BOSAWAS Mayangna Sauni As Community
We are traveling from Rosita to the BOSAWAS and a small indigenous community and Jazelle is talking with us. Saka was a community on the Pis Pis River, which was dammed by HEMCO gold company for hydroelectric power. MENCO has been under various names for more than 100 years. It has been owned by Japanese, Canadian, U.S., and Colombian owners.
This land was sold in 1998 and within six months this was a huge, completely treeless area. Last year two people were condemned and this year three were condemned for entering the BOSAWAS without permission. Ten years of jail was the sentence for these leaders (land brokers), who came from Rio Blanco, Jinoteca, and near here.
This road is impassible June through December during the rainy season. It goes to 1600 sq km including 16 communities and 12,000 people, the Mayangna Sauni As.
The indigenous here hunt with .22 rifles or bows and arrows, and fish with a simple hook on a line. They can sell meat for 25 Cd per pound in the countryside, or 65 – 70 Cd per pound in the city.
The electric line here is two years old.
We see oropendula bird nests.
These invaders have only been here for six or seven months – massive areas are now deforested. We are on the edge of the BOSAWAS. The Mayangna used to hunt here, but now they can’t because of deforestation and lack of animals. The “River of painted turtles” on the other side is indigenous territory. The Mayangna are the only people here, and this is their only language.
We are accompanied by Ricardo, who speaks Mayangna and Spanish.
After a very bumpy van ride, we arrived at the end of the road and a stream. On the other side is a Mayangna community and the BOSAWAS. We took off our shoes and clumsily waded across two sections of the stream. There are cattle along the edge who wander along both sides and through the stream. It’s hot and the water looks inviting. As we cross, we see crabs, tadpoles, and a whole herd of butterflies, and big red dragonflies. We are told that the next river is an eight hour walk away.
This is the boundary. People are coming in to hunt with guns and dogs and don’t respect the indigenous people. The indigenous have their own language, ways of life, and food. After climbing a steep hill (and fording a river and being attacked by a giant herd of butterflies), Kathy missed a step and fell going into the school sidewalk and cut her head.
This school was build in 2005. They are teaching in Spanish (and probably Mayangna).
Ricardo and Jazelle showed us things along the way, including the Mulu plant, which reduces the pain and time for childbirth. It’s also useful for washing hair. The biggest trees are the Ciba. Another tree is good to help heal broken bones. There are lots of cicadas and song birds. In the forest near here are Mountain Lions, Jaguars, and Ocelots.
After going into the BOSAWAS and back, some of us had a marvelous swim in the stream for about an hour while waiting for the others to get back and having lunch.
We saw three truckloads of people – Eco-battalion, police, and territorial government people – we met with some of them the next day. It turns out they were on a saneamiento mission to force invaders out of their homes and burn the houses down.
We finally got back in the bus, drove on to Bonanza, and checked in to our hotel. For most of us for most of the time, there was no water in the hotel. We tried to bathe by splashing water over ourselves out of a bucket and had to flush the toilets with a bucket. However, this was not a very satisfactory process and we each quickly used up the barrel of water that was brought to each room.