The old west had a lot more than just cowboys. There were also traders… pelts, jewelry, and buffalo come to mind. Our buffalo is wood… present in large quantities where the ¨lazy¨ Indians have failed to exploit it to date.
A grown man cries in front of a small audience, covering his face in unnecessary shame. His name is Diogracias (literally, GaveThanks). The audience is composed of pastors and church leaders from several Wounaan communities along with Ricardo Esquivia, a conflict resolution specialist and lawyer from Colombia. Diogracias is trying to recount a recent visit to his family´s communal lands, last year virgin forest, this year pillaged and burned by Latinos to extract the precious rosewood, legally prohibited to harvest but easy enough to get out of the country with a bribe. Big money. Black market.
These people talk of hopelessness now with good reason. They began with their local mayor trying to solve the problem peacefully when it started this summer. Two months later, no solution, tensions are high, they´ve climbed the political ladder and found corruption in the highest ranks, promises from national ministers, helicopter flyovers, and still… the destruction continues. Apparently, the loggers now have legal documents to take out wood that is illegal on land that belongs to someone else.
The loggers have money. One of them was shot. Now their chainsaws are accompanied with high-powered arms. They have entered town and threatened the people. The people are afraid to go out of town and harvest their food… and now, they´re hungry, scared, and angry.
If it were not for the guidance of some church elders, there would already have been more bloodshed. The communities, Río Hondo and Río Platanares, have set an ultimatum for March 15th. Please pray for this situation.