“We want to join the white family, but we don’t want to forget the words of the Nukak.”
Pía – Pe, indigenous Nukak
We will always regret the loss of our priceless pre-Columbian cultures, those of our parents, our roots, those of the Indigenous who inhabited and owned these lands which the Spanish conquistadors usurped violently. With the latter came not only the death of our language, of our beliefs, customs and views, but also the death of the Indigenous people. We were killed not only with their viruses and diseases, their bullets and inhumane treatment, but also with their christianization and education, which did not educate but destroyed our culture, forcing us to forget our genesis in exchange for Adam and Eve.
After our quest to recover our history, (the real one, written by ourselves), and regain our true culture, we seek to inquire into what little was left by those who imposed mandatory amnesia.
Now we are not only whites, Blacks, Indigenous but also Mestizos, Mulattoes, Zambos and more; all with different roots that come together in a single culture that now capitalism led by the United States, wants also to disrupt.
When the globalized world learned at the end of the last century, of a nomadic tribe that traversed the border forests between Colombia and Brazil hunting with poisoned darts and collecting fruits, they were amazed. They soon recognized it as “cultural patrimony of humanity.” Many of us rejoiced because from them we could learn about various aspects of our true identity and worldview, and we could learn from their wisdom and ancient secrets. Perhaps we could also assure that they relate to us without losing their nature. It was the Nukak Makú.
But the civilized world did not act accordingly, much less the Governments of Colombia and United States, who insisted on using them for their own benefit, to the detriment of their culture, their customs and their life. Members of the Nukak people, estimated at the time of their appearance at 1.200, today they are no more than 300, and the worst is that they are divided into several groups, a conduct completely alien to their traditions.
What happened to them illustrates better than anything that the USA, the transnational corporations, the ‘judicious’ anthropologists and the Colombian Government, right in the XXI century, imitated and far exceeded the predatory behavior of the Spanish conquistadors. They, and not the FARC-EP, as they want to show to the general public, are responsible for the disappearance of the Nukak people.
The Nukak were destined to become an instrument of the counter-insurgency war designed by the Pentagon and faithfully applied in our country. The first thing they did was to place by the 1990s, a secret track in the jungle area that separates the rivers of Guaviare and Inirida, sector where all of the Nukak people were concentrated, in order to adopt their language and exploit it in military codes. Several of them were taken and sent to North America, as Columbus had sent to Spain 500 years ago. They even invented Francis Makú, an international fashion model, in order to exploit her indigenous ancestry in the world market. They trained Monkiaro, leader of that community, in warfare tactics. They created a military academy for Nukak Makú soldiers in the military base on Barrancón, Guaviare Department. There, four of them died in 1994, injured while handling a bomb as they were receiving artillery training with mortar in the polygon.
Makú Indigenous received training there to be part of special forces (guides, trackers and location of targets), and while on those tasks, have encountered guerrilla forces that have managed to snatch weapons of all kinds, GPS, compasses, maps, etc. The Colombian Government, taking advantage of the naivety of the Indigenous people who just entered the knowledge of the new world, put every effort in converting some of the last nomads, into poorly paid mercenaries, because of the skills shown in the jungle. Scientists from Nazi conceptions used anthropology to penetrate their psyche, govern it and put it at the service of the war.
The procedure included their recruitment through health and evangelization campaigns. After removing them from their habitat, Indigenous people were detained in preassigned centers and military bases. Converting them into ordinary soldiers had in turn another devious purpose. Removing the Indigenous forever from their lands in the mountainous area of Tunahí, means leaving the way clear for energy and mining exploitation by transnational companies.
The Indigenous people of the most remote communities, and that goes not only for the Nukak, in addition to being removed from their home, are transferred to USA institutions and laboratories, where they are studied as Guinea pigs, extracting from them even their genetic information, including of course their ancestral knowledge, because they are experts on the secrets of botany, poisons, healing substances and even hallucinogens that exist in the mysterious environment of the forest.
The lack of medical care essential for communities that do not know nor resist viruses and diseases from the outside world, does not seem to be a concern for the state. On the contrary, topped its indolent attitude with the spraying of glyphosate, arguing the existence of illicit crops by drug trafficker settlers, as they tend to call the peasants that in order to survive had to begin cultivating coca. The Indigenous not even plant coca; they are used as simple leaf pickers and exploited by employers who with payments often in kind, supply them with products harmful to their physical, mental and cultural wellbeing, as is the case with alcoholic beverages.
The Nukak people were immersed in an armed confrontation which has nothing to do with them. The bombing, strafing, and military forces operations cause them to migrate to towns and cities, and with it, their subsequent decomposition. The abandonment and the perfidy of the Colombian State makes that Indigenous Colombians remain adrift, with no solutions in sight to their problems, especially those related to the provision of basic services, protection of their rights and the preservation of their culture.
The Indigenous Organization of Colombia, ONIC, points out that: “the situation of the Indigenous people of Guaviare demonstrates a continuous violation of human rights to the point of becoming a permanent genocide.” The truth is that the inhabitants of the forest, as their name translates, want to remain faithful to their roots and customs. The guerrillas of the FARC-EP, as so many other good people from Colombia who think beyond greed and capital, are for the defense of the existence and preservation of the cultural essence of the Indigenous communities, which if all this barbarism is not stopped, soon they will only exist in our memories.
Jungle of Eastern Colombia, May 31, 2015.