— Fragmento de Ida y vuelta, Amalia Bautista (via poesianoerestu)
Alvaro Laiz: Wonderland - Venezuela, Delta Amacuro (2012- 2013)
via Madrid based gallery (admittedly a bit of a rocky English translation)
The Delta Amacuro, in eastern Venezuela, is one of the most inhospitable places in the world. For the past 8,500 years, the Warao people have turned its 20.000 km² of water canals and swamps into their home. Despite the strong acculturation they have suffered because of colonialism, the Warao nation has managed to keep their culture and way of life deeply rooted into this environment.
The Warao, as it happens in other ethnic groups, considers certain people to be neither man nor woman. They are called Tida Wena. This tradition of inclusion into the Warao society goes all the way back to pre-colonization times. Most of these beliefs were common only half a century ago, but now due to the growing acculturation they are facing extinction.
Before the late 20th century, the term berdache was widely used by anthropologists as a generic term to indicate “two-spirit” or transgender individuals. In Native American societies, berdaches played an important role both religiously and economically. They were given specific roles in their religion and were not expected to support their family like a male would, but rather they were required to do some of the women’s work and portray the behaviors and clothing of a woman. Historically, Tida Wena have been well integrated into the life of their tribes, and have often held revered and honored positions within their tribes, but things have changed during the last 50 years.
The Warao people are extremely sensitive to foreig influence. A fundamental part of this is that a few independent investigations indicate that a range in between 40% and 80% of the Warao tribe are infected with HIV. Having HIV has become a taboo and many people refuses to receive treatment, and eventually face death in order to avoid social pressure. Collectives at risk such as Tida Wena (transgenders) and homosexuals have often rejected, accused of being responsible for this pandemic which is devastating the warao people.
On the other side, the high levels of infantile mortality are extreme. One out of two newly born does not reach the age of three. The unrestrained progress, the lack of a united educational and reproductive sexual responsibility plus the peculiarities of their cosmology, where illness represents the evil spirits, contributes to the creation of a potentially fatal scenario to the Warao tribe and the disappearances of those old traditions and knowledge represented by the existence of transgender people among the warao society.
This is extremely fatalistic. I don’t know if I believe all of it cause there’s no source for the information presented. But if The Warao Nation does indeed have such high levels of HIV, and nobody is actively doing something to help them deal with this situation… well… shit, this horrendous. What a horrible scenario.
Indigenous nations all across the American continent always getting the worse end of the stick in pretty much everything in life.
It’s really sad. And most governments all across the American continent don’t give two flying fucks about them.
Most people seem to think that indigenous people here in this continent are extinct, that’s what our outdated education all across the American continent has taught us about the indigenous people who once lived in these lands without outside ‘help’, without foreign influences that were far more destructive, and still are, than they were beneficial.
All across South America there are tons of tribes that are still getting run over by ‘progress’, all in the name of making money out of priceless and finite resources. Once all our waters, and our forests and the animals that live in them are gone, are we going to eat and drink money?
The Secret - Jean-Michel Folon