Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Columbia's Ticuna Indians Tell Tourists to Stay Away

Daily Mail: A village deep in the Columbian Amazon, inhabited by indigenous people, has banned tourists as they are sick of being cooed over.

Near to the Amazon River lies Nazareth, a curious place to the outside world where they uphold age-old jungle traditions and have wonderful fauna and flora - some of the most varied on the planet.

Last year 35,000 tourists visited the region to swing with the monkeys, swim with the famed pink dolphins that frolic in the Amazon waters or to fish for piranhas. Now, however, tourists wanting to visit Nazareth, where Ticuna Indians - one of the most endangered communities in the world - make up 80 per cent of the population, will be greeted by guards armed with their traditional sticks, ready to deter unwelcome tourists.

The village, which is found by a 20-minute boat trip from the town of Leticia, has supposedly been off-limits to visitors for the past two years - but tourists have still come. Elders say the indigenous people do not benefit from the growth in tourism across the region - it is the travel companies who are coining in the profits.

If we don't preserve (our culture), in the next 30 years it will all be finished. United Nations believe that there are only about 30,000 Ticuna people remaining and they are fearful of seeing their culture eroded by prying visitors.

Local Grimaldo Ramos said: 'We had lots of problems. People came, left their rubbish behind, garbage bags, plastic bottles. 'Tourists come and shove a camera in our faces,' he said. 'Imagine if you were sitting in your home and strangers came in and started taking photos of you. You wouldn't like it."

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