Amazon village evacuated as 200 armed tribesmen steal livestock and supplies

39 villagers forced to leave homes by uncontacted Amazon tribe

Tom Mendelsohn
Wednesday 24 December 2014 15:48 GMT
Members of the Mashco-Piro tribe observe a group of travelers from across the Alto Madre de Dios river
Members of the Mashco-Piro tribe observe a group of travelers from across the Alto Madre de Dios river (Reuters)

An isolated jungle village in Peru is being evacuated by the authorities after it was attacked by an indigenous tribe.

At least 39 residents - 16 of whom are children - have left the remote Amazon village of Monte Salvado after they were raided on Friday by around 200 members of the Mashco-Piro tribe, who were apparently looking for food.

The tribe, who are deliberately reclusive for historical reasons, are reported to have stolen and killed livestock, and taken metal pots, machetes, rope, blankets and food.

There were no deaths or injuries according to the Peruvian authorities, even though the raiders did fire arrows. Most of the villagers were out at the time, voting in elections, while their houses were ransacked.

“The villagers took refuge in a guard post," Patricia Balbuena, Peru’s vice-minister of intercultural affairs, told The Guardian. "They are safe but have no food and are terrified.”

This is the third time in a year that the Mashco-Piro tribe have arrived at the village, which sits near the Brazilian border, in search of supplies.

Bad weather initially stopped police and army helicopters from providing help to the villagers. They've been moved to the regional capital, Puerto Maldonado, alongside 22 more refugees from another nearby village.

Anthropologists told the Guardian that a force of 200 armed men "marks a serious escalation" in comparison to previous encounters with the tribe, who first retreated into remote parts of the region in 1894, after they were slaughtered by a Peruvian landlowner.

“We’ve never heard reported such a large movement of uncontacted people,” one told The Guardian.

According to the London-based tribes' rights NGO Survival International, there are 15 tribes living in voluntary seclusion in the Peruvian Amazon. Their territory is threatened by loggers, and contact with the outside world is banned due to their lack of resistance to common illnesses.

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