Initial Email Correspondence Between Kansas City and the Emberá-Chamí

These questions were e-mailed to Ancizar and Luis, after being translated by Maria Pelto, of CSN-KC

Do you have electricity in the 3 villages:  La Italia, Argelia, and Las Palmeras?  If so, do you use it only for lights, or do some persons have refrigerators and other electrical items in their homes?

Do you have water piped into your houses?  If not, where do you get water—from a well, or from a river?  Is it clean, pure water? Is it necessary to boil it before drinking it?

Are your houses made of wood or concrete?  Do you sleep in beds or hammocks?

Do the doctors in your communities treat all illnesses and accidents, or do you sometimes go to a doctor in another town?  Is there a clinic in El Tigre, or is it necessary to go to La Hormiga or Orito? What are the other large towns in the area (closer than Puerto Asís)?

Do you have telephones that can call outside the area , or only cell phones for local use? When you want to check your e-mail, where do you go?

What is the situation with schools for the children?  (We remember that a young woman schoolteacher spoke to us when we were in El Tigre). Are there schools in all 3 communities, or only 1 school for everyone? Is the language in the school Embera Chamí, or only Spanish? How many years do boys and girls usually go to school? If they want to study more, where do they go for additional levels and how much does it cost?


Ancizar’s response was sent to the Kansas City chapter, after being translated by Cecilia Zárate-Laun

Dear friends:

I apologize for my late answer to the questions you have and I want to tell you that we are waiting your good will towards us who are abandoned by the Colombian state I am struggling for my people in the good and in the bad, even if the rock is hard it will be broken we are resisting if we have to wait we will until the sun no longer shines without what happens to us indigenous because we struggle for surviving and for our territory because an indigenous without land is not indigenous.

  1. We do not have electricity
  2. We do not have water system, we take water from streams and they are affected by fumigations
  3. Our houses are made of wood we sleep on the floor with no beds
  4. Our traditional doctors (jaibanas) protect us from diseases, hospitals are only for physical diseases; they do not value our traditional doctors
  5. Cel Celular: 3202505708, we pick up mail in La Hormiga in other words in the town
  6. We have bilingual teachers in each community only for children in primary school
  7. Our food comes from Mother Earth whatever she produces in agriculture we plant rice, cassava, sugar cane , plantains but we do not have a rice mill or a trapiche ( to process sugar cane)

The musical instruments are very important because from above KARAGABI is listening to us since the origin of the Embera Chami people this is to demonstrate our culture and also to make presentations before the government.
I want to know about the proposals made for working this year such as the training for leadership in the Putumayo and about the computers they are for us to elaborate our history and to have them ready, it is a very important work for us, I want to know about our handcrafts.

I am at this moment in La Hormiga. Send me an answer for August 28 since I will come back that day.

A hug to Cecilia, Robert and all the members of the team
Respectfully Ancizar Gutierrez


Luis’ response was sent to the Kansas City chapter

Dear Friends,

At this time we are facing a crisis in my community due to the massive fumigations and forced eradication. For this reason, we worry about our children and elders who don’t have the means to survive. Many parents want to withdraw their children from school due to inadequate nutrition and lack of funds to pay for education.

Today, on August 12, we met with the mayor of our municipality to express our concerns. The mayor did not have a positive answer about the future that waits for our community. Members of our community would like to persist with our cause through the government to obtain justice. We feel discriminated against and unprotected by the law of the 1991 Constitution.

As for your other questions, I would like to respond in a general way, addressing each question. We do not have electricity or plumbing. Our houses are made of wood and some have plastic roofs. Some families do not have their own home. To obtain our mail, we go to a village called La Hormiga. For health services, we use holistic medicine.  For emergencies, we go to the clinic in La Hormiga. In our community we have schools, but they are deteriorating. The teachers teach in both our native language and in Spanish.

If it is possible that our situation will become known in your country and a humanitarian campaign is established, we would be very grateful. My community and I are awaiting your response.

I bid you farewell.


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