If you thought Peru’s indigenous people led a happy existence, you are quite wrong. The next time you plan to visit Peru, you might as well read up a little about the various tribes that live precariously, caught between modernization, drug trafficking and malnutrition. One such tribe is the Ashaninka Indians, who live in one of the largest coca-growing valleys in the world.
They were used to traffickers, rebels and illegal loggers. Now, they are getting used to an increased military presence that aims to check coca-trafficking. Much of coca is processed to manufacture cocaine and crack. The Ashaninka Indians do not gain much from this activity and almost all of them live on wild fish, rodents and plants.
They suffer from malnutrition, lack of education and poverty. Though the government provided firearms to the tribe in order to protect themselves, they have often been targets of illegal poachers, smugglers and drug traffickers. To add misery, the only school in the region teaches only in Spanish. Their Arawak-related language is gradually on the brink of extinction. It remains to be seen how the tribe will sustain itself in the face of modernization and poverty.
In all likelihood, their story will be similar to other tribes’ and they may soon lose their indigenous identity and become part of mainstream Peru culture unless effective measures are put in place. However, Peruvian government has steadfastly worked towards improving tribal people’s quality of life and hopefully some of the tourism money will be diverted to their upliftment.
Image Source: Wikipedia