Frustrated by loggers, Indians become enforcers


Wilson Jerónimo del Aguila, a Tikuna Indian leader in Colombia, recalls one day in 1998 when he and other tribal authorities heard the snarl of chain saws. They spied 20 illegal loggers, including several Indians from the Yagua and Cocama tribes, felling 25-meter-high cedar trees (Cedrela odorata) near the Amacayacu River, just miles from this country’s border with Brazil and Peru. Del Aguila and fellow tribesmen surrounded the loggers. They inspected their identity papers, seized the chain saws and reported the men to local enforcement authorities. But the authorities made no arrests, and, within a week, del Aguila was a marked man. People insulted him in the streets of Puerto Nariño, his tribe’s principal town, and in neighboring Leticia. An anonymous note slipped... [Log in to read more]

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