New photos released of remote Brazilian rainforest tribe

Survival International, a UK-based rights group dedicated to protecting indigenous communities worldwide, has just released new photographs of an “uncontacted” group of indigenous people living on the Brazilian-Peruvian border. This is only the second time in two years photos of the isolated Indians have ever been released.

FoxNews reports the photos were taken by Brazil’s Indian Affairs department, which monitors various indigenous tribes by aircraft. Uncontacted tribes are so described because they have limited interactions with the outside world. Survival International estimates that there are over a hundred uncontacted tribes left globally.

The organization came under fire for creating a hoax when the first photos were released in 2008; the president of Peru even hinted that such tribes were an invention of environmentalists opposing Amazonian oil exploration. The myth of “first-contact” tribes also prevails amongst unscrupulous companies catering to tourists. Survival International’s website quotes Marcos Apurinã, Coordinator of Brazil’s Amazon Indian organization COIAB as saying, “It is necessary to reaffirm that these peoples exist, so we support the use of images that prove these facts. These peoples have had their most fundamental rights, particularly their right to life, ignored … it is therefore crucial that we protect them.”


The Brazilian government is a believer, however, and has dedicated a division to helping protect uncontacted tribes. Many indigenous peoples of the Amazon have been the victims of disease or genocide (due to war or, uh, “eradication”) or displacement by petroleum companies. The Brazilian government is concerned that an increase in illegal logging in Peru is forcing uncontacted tribes over the border into Brazil, which could result in conflict.

Survival International reports that the Brazilian Indians appear to be in good health, as evidenced by their appearance (FYI, their skin is dyed red from the extract of the annatto seed), as well as that of communal gardens and a plentiful supply of food including manioc and papaya. The tribe was also recently filmed (from the air) by the BBC for the television series, “Human Planet.”

While there is admittedly a certain hypocrisy in buzzing uncontacted peoples with planes, the bigger picture is the necessity of proving their existence in order to save them, as Apurinã points out. Look for my forthcoming post on my stay with the remote Hauorani people of Ecuador, who had their first contact with the outside world in the late 1940’s. Over the last twenty-plus years, they have waged legal land rights battles against various petroleum companies in order to preserve both their land and their existence.

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Delta Airlines cuts jobs; who’s to blame?

Atlanta based Delta Airlines announced Tuesday that they were cutting 2,000 jobs, their second cutback in six months. Citing rising fuel costs, the airline also says that it will cut back capacity and park 45 airplanes.

As the airline despondently pointed out, fuel prices have risen 20% in the last three months while market prices and competition have stayed tight. Under those conditions, how can an airline not be forced to cut back?

The problem, as a function of the egregious gouging by oil companies, is that airline prices have not appreciated correctly with crude and inflation. Increased internal competition and external pressures from passengers to produce the cheapest fares possible have forced carriers to underbid one another to the point of taking losses on many of their flights while operating costs skyrocket. Sure, airlines could enact a unilateral increase in fares across the country, but then some carriers (those perhaps, who locked in their oil prices years ago) could unfairly take advantage of the market.

Besides, are we as Americans going to stand by while airline prices assume their normal level? I guarantee you congress and passengers would be in an uproar and we would have three particular senators crying murder.

But until something drastic happens, we’re bound to ride the imploding American skies. Bankruptcies will continue, mergers will haunt our shareholders and the unions will continue to battle management over labor costs. We’ll blame a CEO for taking a million dollar bonus and politicians will form committees against the backdrop of your favorite airline stock inching closer to the floor. Through it all, the oil companies will step back and let us fight amongst ourselves, and as we slowly work our way towards collapse they’ll silently take our money — and laugh themselves all of the way to the bank.