In the early 1970s the native people of the Amazon Basin, or Amazonia — an area of South America that includes parts of Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela and Surinam — were faced with a serious problem Their traditional lands were being destroyed by outsiders. Central governments sent construction crews into the rain forests to build dams and highways.
Instead of carrying out land reform, many of the governments encouraged landless peasants to move from the mountains to the “uninhabited” rain forests. There the peasants used farming methods unsuitable for the Amazon.
In a short time, they turned the vegetation into a desert.Then they packed their families, cows, and goats and moved deeper into the rain forests destroying the land as they went. Many of the peasants gave up farming. Instead, they turned to gold mining. In the process, they poisoned the rivers and streams with mercury, killing the fish, an important part of their diet.
Some of the Indians fought back with spears and rifles, killing and being killed. Others sought refuge deeper in the rain forest. But among them were leaders who knew they could not run away forever from what the white man called “progress”. One of those leaders was Evaristo Nuquaq. Seeing his people’s environment and traditional way of life being destroyed, he decided to do something. He borrowed a canoe and went up and down the rivers stopping at every village along the way, telling everyone who would listen that they must organize if they were to survive. He encouraged another tribe to join them. Although these two tribes have traditionally been enemies, they joined together and formed a nongovernmental organization ( NGO). Meanwhile, Nuquaq spoke to leader of other tribes in the Peruvial Amazon Basin. He encouraged them to get organized. Then he called the meeting of these leaders in Lima, the capital of Peru. He told them it was not enough to become organized on the village or tribal level. They needed a national organization, one that could influence the Peruvian central government.
So Inter-Ethnic Association of the Peruvian Jungle was set up. It immediately began working to solve the problems of all the indigenous people of the Peruvian Amazon Basin. The Association reached an agreement with the Ministry of Education to train Indians to be teachers, so that primary and secondary schools would be taught by Indian teachers in both Spanish and the native language. An agreement with the Ministry of Health was reached to train one person from each village to be a health worker who would treat emergency medical problems such as bites from poisonous snakes or broken bones.
The Association obtained grants from international NGO. It also concentrated its activities on lobbying such centers of power as the United Nations, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Unites States Congress — any place where decisions were made that affected the well-being of the Amazon Basin and its native population. By forming partnerships with international organizations, the Association has been able to influence the policies of several Latin American countries and to protect the interests of the native people.
crew — команда, бригада
rain forests — тропический лес
dam — плотина
highway — шоссе
to encourage — ободрять, поощрять
peasant — крестьянин
uninhabited — незаселенный
nongovernmental organizations ( NGO’s) — неправительственные организации
vegetation — растительность
desert — пустыня
goat — коза
instead — вместо (этого), взамен
mining — разработка полезных ископаемых, добыча
to poison — отравлять
mercury — ртуть
spear — копье
rifle — винтовка
to seek (sought, sought) — искать, стремиться
refuge — убежище
environment — окружающая среда
to survive — выживать
emergency — чрезвычайное положение, крайняя необходимость
bites — укусы