If a nation is likened unto a mother watching over her children, then Brazil is the mother who wears a beautiful necklace. This multi-colored strand contains 200 beautiful gemstones. They are unique and distinct. Each gem represents one of the many indigenous tribes who call this nation their home.
Within this demographic are approximately 188 different languages and (an estimated) sixty-seven uncontacted tribal groups that are blissfully unaware of the world as it exists beyond the confines of their habitat. Brazil’s indigenous population presents as an ethnographer’s paradise. Culture and social mores, natural habitat and survival skills, and sociolinguistics and human behavior can be observed. But the research laboratory is far removed from the sterile confines of the halls of academia. The laboratory is located within the basin of the Amazon River, nestled into the Guiana Highlands, and within remote areas where explorers of past eras have given of their blood and personal treasure. To explore Brazil is akin to Helen Keller touching the face of Anne Sullivan for the first time. Delight and a sense of wonderment await the visitor.
The very presence of these remote, indigenous groups function as a living testament. The romanticized myth of lone survival makes for pleasant reading and the script of an occasional film. But the manner in which indigenous cultural moorings demonstrate the survival of the human spirit is the ancient tale of man. This survival and maintenance of micro-societies which remain unchanged throughout their centuries of existence must be secured. Brazil’s necklace is a beautiful one. Policies which assure non-interference by outside interests are the clasp on the necklace. It must not be allowed to break.
In past decades, initiatives to diminish the extrinsic impact of broader-based culture on indigenous tribal cultures have been provisioned within the constitution. Common streams of missionary endeavors and outreaches seeking to extend humanitarian kindness have been balanced through the restraint provided by Brazil’s constitution. While social anthropologists and ethnographers may rant a bit against missionary proselytization and forward stationing into the tribal regions, their own voices are hollow reeds of self-incrimination. Observation can change the behavior of the one who is being observed. And cultural immersion research which involves prolonged patterns of indwelling between the researcher and his “laboratory” can create subtle cultural changes. These changes may adversely impact the survivability of Brazil’s micro-societies.
One hard truth which can be difficult to digest is that of generational continuity. Simply put, the survival of micro-societies is dependent on the affirmation of the indigenous culture by the children moving into an age of procreative capability. If they are excessively impacted by outside forces, if the allure of modernism reaches their doorstep, the tribe can be one generation away from biologic annihilation.
There are those who will continue to split hairs regarding the interface of missionary zeal or secular humanitarian efforts within the tribal belts of Brazil. But a much greater danger is shaping up to rob the mother of her necklace. This danger is firmly established within the Tri-Border Area shared by Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. This danger will eventually engulf a greater number of the 200 indigenous groups who call Brazil home. This peril has a name and presents as a 21st century reality.
Hybrid narco-terrorism organizations present the most significant danger to the survival of the micro-societies which are dependent on both their isolation and unspoiled habitats to maintain their generations. This nexus of drug cartel old-school evil and terror organization new-school evil is a symbiotic relationship based on criminal financial greed and the need to fund terror. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, nearly fifty percent of the designated foreign terror organizations have traceable links to the global narcotics trade. These hybrid entities are dependent on movement within the shadow lands of nations where palsied law enforcement efforts are noted. Whether looking at remote regions of Brazil, Pakistan or Mali, the ripple effects of narco-terrorism activities on indigenous cultures are the same. Erosion and erasure of culture occur whenever a protective cordon is lacking.
Whether it is a connection between Lebanese terror organizations and drug cartel financiers or any other hybrid accommodation, the challenges remain the same. Brazil has stewardship over a vibrant human puzzle. This stewardship is not based on human initiative but on a unique interface between geography with human biology. How can this great nation maintain policy initiatives which function as two hundred separate protectorates over rights of the indigenous groups to maintain their lives in peace?
Brazil’s constitution gives the nod toward the tribal diversity within her borders. The government acknowledges the right of the indigenous tribes to benefit from their resources, and maintain their generational traditions. Their removal from the land is forbidden.
Narco-terrorism organizations do not abide by constitutional restraint. They blaze their trails across forested paths and leave behind the signs of psychological infestation. Narco-traffickers despise the human race of which we are all a part. They embrace a dangerous hybrid organizational culture of their own. It is one of predatory exploitation. A world with boundaries and no trespass zones does not exist within these criminal accommodations.
Is annihilation of any tribe worth a shipment of cocaine? Drug traffickers have long forgotten their own mothers. They have even less regard for the vulnerable children of Mother Brazil.
Government is tasked with the stewardship of national resources. Today the stewardship of Brazil is noted when considering that the nation sustains an enviable and robust economic environment – with the sixth strongest national economy in the world.
Beyond the stewardship of national economy Brazil remains uniquely different regarding her challenges as the sentinel of her gene pool. The need to maintain protected status for the 200 distinct and separate indigenous tribal cultures is a guardianship challenge which requires wisdom. A strong backbone is required to eradicate -in efficient manner- the narco-terrorism routes which trouble the people. My best wishes are extended. And may the beautiful necklace of indigenous culture remain draped across the shoulders of a nation.
The writer is a freelance journalist and author of the novel Arsenal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org