Regarding the Porvenir Massacre, a tribute to the Takana People

Regarding the Porvenir Massacre, a tribute to the Takana People

By Pablo Cingolani

The executors of the massacres change but the dead remain the same. All of us who have not lost our sensitivity to human dramas, to the atrocities that the poor and humble always have to suffer, must demand that the fact be clarified and that the material and intellectual responsible receive the judgment and punishment they deserve. .

The ballad of Bruno and Bernardino

The Takana were the Lords of the Jungle. There are many ethnohistorical studies that prove its gravitation and influence. Ecuai, the village leader, always guided them in search of Caquiawaca, the enchanted mountain, which "you can see but you can never get to." Jawaway is the owner of animals, especially those that go in troops and serve as food: you always had to ask his permission and honor him, since, otherwise, tapirs, jochis and pigs would disappear and you could go hungry.

The Incas of Cuzco respected the culture of the Takanas. The inhabitants of the low forest that cover the basins of the great rivers that flow into the largest of all (the Beni River) were intermediaries between the newcomers from the highlands and other nations and peoples of the lowlands. The Takana lived at the gateway to a great kingdom. The Moxos were an exemplary state that spanned the floodplains. Hundreds of thousands of people lived there who had developed a unique water management complex, which allowed the emergence of a powerful agricultural economy, which translated into prosperity for the people. And a fame that spread beyond the swamps and the hills. Guamán Poma tells how the Inca Uturunco ​​- the Jaguar King & shy; - not only brought coca from the jungles and propitiated it in the Andes, but also married a Takana or Moxeña princess, who knows. The truth is that, in those times, there was something that is not there now, or was forgotten or lost amid the confusion and horror that would come: a sufficiently harmonious relationship, a community of respect, between the peoples of the highlands and their peers from the lowlands. The word war only appeared in the chronicles when those who wrote them came from the other shore of the ocean to invade this part of the world.

* * *

It was a night with a stove, with coca and a drink in Ixiamas. Black night in the Amazon, night at the end of the world, years ago, when reaching Ixiamas was long, difficult. The conversation flowed, the companionship also, to the beat of the crickets and frogs. Until someone took up a violin or a guitar and began to play and especially to sing. He knew the buris of Apolo, of Santa Cruz del Valle Ameno, of those sides of the Machariapu and the Tuichi. But these buris, or that music, the metal of the voice, its tone, were something else, from another dimension, another depth. I had never heard something so sad but, at the same time, something so haughty, so proud and so heartfelt. When I faced the man to ask him what he was playing, he replied: takana music. When I wanted to find out his name, he proclaimed, like an arrow cutting through the wind of history and oblivion, that his last name was Racua and that a relative of his was buried in the town cemetery.

* * *

The Spanish had to face the Confederate Takanas to prevent them from taking over their territory. The "cruel war", as Adelantado Álvarez de Maldonado himself called it, which the natives planted against the usurpers during the second half of the 16th century, was a brilliant example of successful anti-colonial resistance. There the first names of the heroes that official history always denied appear: Tarano, the chief of the Toromonas; Arapo, the chief of the Uchupiamonas. They were all Takanas and so brave and ardent in combat that they prevented the invaders from settling in the Southern Amazon for long. They never really made it. Defeated by arms, they sent the priests. The friars exploited the sensitive and kind side of the inhabitants of the jungle and seduced them, beginning a work of undermining, which persists until today, to abolish their culture, so that they forget their Caquiawaca and their Jawaway, so that they stop being themselves . They founded some missions - in 1721, that of Ixiamas - to reduce them, "civilize" them and control them. The Takanas were not as docile as the ensotanados claimed and they fled to the mountains but above all they died from the pests inoculated by outsiders. Thus, years, decades, centuries passed, until the jungle trembled, and this time for real and forever: in the north of the world, a tree in the Amazon had gained an unusual value for giving it uses and making things for the inhabitants of those countries that were located thousands of kilometers from the jungle. However, as part of the devastating effect of the world market, which was always in one way or another "globalized" by the empires of the day, the fever for rubber extraction drove thousands of foreigners to the forest. Their actions resulted in a nightmare that to this day remains hidden and silenced and worse, persists, as evidenced by the events that took place in El Porvenir a few days ago: the first great moment of the genocide of the Amazonian indigenous peoples. The Takanas did not escape that fury and that capitalist ambition that "led to the persecution (" raids ") of the indigenous people, who were practically exterminated by massacres, slave labor and the transfer of entire families to the northern rubber areas". [1]

* * *

"In the good old days, what was most needed in the rubber forests were men. (…) Since labor was so precious, they tried to tie up workers through the debt system ... They managed in such a way Indians always had large debts, so they were actually slaves. Workers were sold by transferring their debts to another person. As it was known that they could not pay the debts themselves, when buying them they also paid extra premiums. inheritances as in bankruptcy cases, workers would be inventoried as assets. "

Erland Nordenskiöld: Explorations and Adventures in South America. APCOB-Plural, La Paz, 2001, pp. 340-341

"If it is true sad that the savages have received previous offenses until seeing their children snatched away by the Christians, it is also a fact that the latest scandal will occur frequently [nr: it refers to attacks by indigenous people on" industrial companies " ] If you do not think of putting a complaint to the ferocity of the savages (...) The savage is a beast that when angry it attacks without distinction and the beast must be hunted ... "

Editorial de La Gaceta del Norte, 1889, N ° 19. Taken from Pilar Gamarra: Historical origins of the rubber band in Bolivia in History, N ° La Paz, 1990, p. 53

* * *

The rubber had reminded that Bolivia that was born in 1825 that its territories ended at the Purús River. Bruno Racua, a takana from Ixiamas, like his singing relative who took me to visit him at the cemetery, was one of the hooked ones who forcibly ended up in the rubber bands. Some say that he was born around 1870 and that he went of his own free will to the Acre War, the war that was fought against the Brazilians for the territory where the rubber trees grew. The personal history of the "invisible" is always lost in the meanders of the past. If today we remember Bruno Racua it is because he became a hero in that contest, despite even the majority of Republican historians, who do not name him. The son of Nicolás Suárez -that the potentates of yesterday and today elevate as "El Rey del Caucho" and promoter of "civilization" and "progress" when he was nothing but an invader of the ancestral territories of indigenous peoples, which he massacred and exploited mercilessly- thus narrated the outcome of the strategic Battle of Bahia, on October 11, 1902: "To effect, let's call an Ixiameño Indian whose name I do not remember, [the prominent one is ours] was given a bow and arrow fitted with a wick impregnated with kerosene; thrown on the roofs of palm leaves dried by the action of the sun, two minutes later buildings and trenches at the mercy of the flames made to dislodge, putting in defeat, terrified, the that days before they had outraged national sovereignty ... ". [2] Thanks to the "Indian whose name I don't remember," Nicolás Suárez was able to keep his rubber bands and continue to exploit Racua's brothers. Bolivia was able to preserve something more important: sovereignty up to the Acre River, on whose banks the city of Cobija (the old barrack called Bahia) stands today, capital of the department of Pando, from where the hitmen who murdered two days ago another relative of Don Bruno, the peasant leader Bernardino Racua. If history had been ungrateful enough to forget Bruno Racua, an indigenous national hero [3]; Today history not only repeats itself as a drama for the new condemned in the jungle, but it also reigns supreme in that absurd sneer of fate with the murder of Bernardino Racua.

* * *

"They killed Bernardino Racua. Do you remember him? He was at the First Amazon Forum, he was Bruno Racua's great-grandson. I feel powerless, sad and full of rage" -a colleague alerts me and writes me in anguish- "They killed the wounded in the hospital and there are more injured on the other side of the river… it was a massacre. " The testimonies of the executions of what is already known as "The Massacre of El Porvenir" and that people as criminal as those who took up arms but using keys or microphones try to cover up under the insolent cloak of a "confrontation" are beginning to emerge. , the same scoundrels that were argued under the empire and terror of the National Security Doctrine. We have already said it: it was the continuation of the genocide against indigenous peoples and Amazonian peasants that began in the 16th century, which reached a murderous paroxysm in the rubber years and has been perpetuated until now.

The executors of the massacres change but the dead remain the same. All of us who have not lost our sensitivity to human dramas, to the atrocities that the poor and humble always have to suffer, must demand that the fact be clarified and that the material and intellectual responsible receive the judgment and punishment they deserve. . It is very hard to write about this, about a new dozen martyrs, who are added to this anonymous and endless list of victims of oppression and injustice. But in this terrible hecatomb, because perhaps it is a symbol, we should remember Bernardino, Bruno's great-grandson, the one who bequeathed that piece of the homeland to all Bolivians and, damn paradoxes, to the murderers of his great-grandson, what they they consider his property and his disgraceful power that ended up massacring him. We should remember him for what he was, as what his gunned down companions were: indigenous people and Amazonian peasants, lifelong workers, harvesters who went into the jungles to harvest chestnuts, nature lovers and their protectors because she gave them, every year, bread for their children, humble people, good people, dignified people.

If something has changed in Bolivia in recent years, it is that social conscience no longer supports these violent acts of absolute disregard for the lives of the most unprotected and for the very human condition and that, therefore, they should not go unpunished because it was genocide, crimes against humanity, something impossible to forget and forgive.

Meanwhile, while the clamor and hope that justice finds its way, Bernardino will have already arrived with Bruno and from the summit of Caquiawaca, he will continue to teach us and protect us with his memory.

[1] Díez Astete, Álvaro and Murillo, David: Indigenous Peoples of Lowlands. Main features. MDSP-VAIPO-PNUD, La Paz, 1998, p. 201

[2] Nicolás Suárez Jr.: La Campaña del Acre, 1928. Taken from Saavedra, Carlos P .: Pando, the last paradise. Ed. Franz Tamayo, Cobija, 2001, p. 169

[3] I appreciate the clarification to Wilson García Mérida, personal communication.

Leopoldo Fernández, the "butcher of Porvenir"

Drafting Bolpress
More than 30 people were allegedly murdered in the Pandina town of Porvenir on September 11, 2008, one of the worst peasant massacres in democracy. The main person responsible for the massacre, the prefect of Pando Leopoldo Fernández, "the butcher of Porvenir," called on his armed shock groups to resist the government's "abusive and bullying" state of siege.
On Thursday, September 11, approximately one thousand farmers from communities in Puerto Rico, Madre de Dios and El Palmar marched to the city of Cobija to participate in an expansion of the sector.

Officials of the Departmental Road Service, employees of the Prefecture and civic activists sent by the prefect Leopoldo Fernández tried without success to stop the peasant caravan about seven kilometers from Porvenir. They then ambushed the marchers near the Cachuelita bridge, where they dug a 10-meter-wide ditch to prevent the passage of trucks and people.

"They all came armed (the peasants), we dug some ditches to prevent them from reaching Cobija, one of the last resources we had because they intended to take the Prefecture and then Cobija; the police and military authorities knew about it. And there we had the first wounded, "says Prefect Fernández.

According to Fernández, the supposed "confrontation" was unleashed when his shock group "set fire to two trucks belonging to these people (peasants); it looked like a powder keg, for several minutes it splashed bullets and shots all over the place, because it was exploding all the cargo they had peaceful peasants that the government says ".

The unarmed peasants recall that snipers installed in the treetops began firing automatic machine guns. A dump truck from the Road Service crushed two peasants.

"Suddenly we heard shots and some people were injured. Men, women and children ran everywhere to save their lives, but many were wounded or taken by force to be tortured," recalls Roberto Tito, a direct witness to the massacre.

"We were killed like pigs, with machine guns, with rifles, with shotguns, with revolver. The peasants only brought their teeth, sticks, waves, they did not bring shotguns. After the first shots, some fled towards the Tahuamanu River, but they pursued them and they shot them, "says Shirley Segovia, a manager of a Porvenir sub-station.

The Pandino social leader Dionisio López told Patria Nueva radio that at least 30 hit men almost beat him to death: "I was trying to rescue the gunshot wounded, and there they intercepted me in Porvenir, around one-thirty (13: 30). In Cobija they beat me more or less until 10 at night. They said that I was a Masista because of the color of my face, they wanted to kill me… ".

That Thursday, after the bloody ambush, the hitmen and drug traffickers under the command of the prefect of the department of Pando continued to murder peasants. At least 100 people crossed the border to save their lives.

Days before, the vandals and shock groups burned houses, looted markets and attacked various media. Violence spilled over after the massacre. Prefect Fernández called on the citizens to remain calm and pacify the city of Cobija, but he kept his hosts mobilized "for the restitution of the Direct Tax on Hydrocarbons (IDH)." The departmental authority blamed the Executive Power for the eight deaths registered up to that moment, most of them peasants.

"This government will not achieve, neither in Pando, nor Tarija, nor in Beni, nor in Santa Cruz, nor Chuquisaca, nor in the country as a whole, consummate what it intends (...) I am not going to withdraw at any time from this fight ( ...) The lie will not win in this country, we want to leave a better future for our families (...) let's save our strength to fight (...) we must withdraw to give some peace of mind to those people who are in distress, "said Fernández.

On Friday, the persecutions and murders continued in Cachuelita and Philadelphia, rebel provinces that rejected the "autonomic referendum" of the autonomist bosses and that revoked Fernández in the referendum on August 10. The paramilitaries paid by the prefecture did not allow the rescue of the wounded and the bodies of those killed.

In the city of Cobija, 40 hooded officials of the Prefecture of Pando were intimidating, with small arms and submachine guns. The existence of 15 peasant hostages was reported in the offices of the Civic Committee.

"The situation is dramatic and tragic, peasants are being murdered every moment and the Police and the Army are not acting to save lives. Many people were tortured in the Civic Committee environments; we ask that the Pando department be intervened," claimed the senator of UN Abraham Cuellar, threatened with death by officials of the Prefecture.

The presidential representative in Pando Nancy Texeira, on the verge of tears, criticized the government for abandoning its people and demanded an immediate intervention from the department.

At 7 pm on Friday, the government of Evo Morales issued a regionalized state of siege in the department of Pando in order to prevent further crimes against humanity.

But the seditious groups laughed at the news and attacked two weapons stores in Cobija and attacked the military with machine guns, who regained control of the airport. Two officials from the Prefecture and the conscript Ramiro Tañini Alvarado (17) died in the skirmish, victim of a 22 caliber bullet.

Leopoldo Fernández declared that he would not abide by the state of siege and warned that the mobilizations would continue. "It will be difficult to implement an abusive state of siege. They believed that Pando was the weakest link, (but) we are going to continue fighting, we want a country with freedoms, they are not going to be able to paralyze the autonomic process nor are they going to take that away from Pando hope to grow, we have the right, we are going to fight for what belongs to us, they will not take away our resources ".

Until noon this Saturday, the military had not yet managed to take control of the city of Cobija, let alone enter Philadelphia and Porvenir. Machine gun bursts were heard in some areas of the city of Cobija.

At 9:00 pm the Minister of the Presidency Juan Ramón Quintana arrived in Cobija with more military personnel to enforce the state of siege.

Government Minister Alfredo Rada confirmed on Saturday that at least 16 people lost their lives in Thursday's massacre, but hours later unofficial reports revealed that there would be at least 30 deaths. Various sources report that there are 80 gunshot wounded and up to 100 missing. The Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia reported the disappearance of more than 50 members and 26 wounded by gunshots.

Who is Leopoldo Fernández?

He is a town chief who maintained an almost feudal control of the public and private powers in Cobija and the provinces between 1979 and 2005. He was a public official during the dictatorships of Luis García Meza (1980-1981), Celso Torrelio and Guido Vildoso (1981- 1982); responsible in Pando of the National Institute of Colonization (current INRA); parliamentarian, prefect and Minister of Government of Hugo Banzer-Jorge Quiroga (1997-2002).

It is believed that García Meza gave him land. Now Fernández is involved in the chestnut and livestock business. He declared to the Comptroller a personal assets of 1.4 million dollars.

Fernández is well related to loggers, sawyers and local landowners such as the Sonnenschein, Hecker Hasse, Becerra Roca, Vaca Roca, Peñaranda, Barbery Paz, Claure and Villavicencio Amuruz, among others, who concentrate thousands of hectares of fertile land.

Leopoldo Fernández serves well the racist, intolerant and violent local elite descended from the bosses of the gum and the chestnut that subjected the indigenous to a regime of servitude labor exploitation since the end of the 19th century.

The Pandino people assure that Fernández does not defend the HDI for the region but his pocket. The only thing it has done for the department in the last 30 years of politicking: thirty kilometers of roads.

Former Government Minister Alicia Muñoz denounced in 2006 that Fernández was training paramilitaries in Cobija, supposedly for "citizen security" work. Last year, Leopoldo ordered the burning of the house of senator from Pandino Cuellar, who supported Evo Morales' Community Reform Law of the Agrarian Reform. Last week he appointed an apocryphal director of the office of the National Agrarian Reform Institute (INRA) in Pando, recently declared by the government as the first "sanitized territory of Bolivia."

The president of the Permanent Assembly of Human Rights of Bolivia (APDHB) Rolando Villena revealed that the prefect Leopoldo Fernández hired hitmen from Brazil and Peru to extinguish the indigenous and peasants who support the process of change in Bolivia.

Fernández is clearly incriminated in the massacre: "Don't worry, the Porvenir massacre, the largest massacre in democracy, proportionally greater than the one that occurred in El Alto in 2003, when 60 died (the gas war), should not remain in impunity ", emphasized Minister Rada.

The National Coordinator for Change (Conalcam), which brings together several representative social unions, demanded that Prefect Fernández resign immediately for being the intellectual and material author of the crimes in Porvenir, along with workers from the Prefecture, drug traffickers, the logging mafia and the United States Embassy.

The top executive of the Csutcb Isaac Ávalos asked the Public Ministry and the Attorney General of the Nation to immediately initiate a criminal process and imprison "the criminal Leopoldo Fernández", the "butcher of Porvenir."

Sources: Edgar Ramos, ABI, Erbol, Red Antiracismo, UPIC-Tierra.
Taken from

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