Indian tribes from all parts of Venezuela have condemned what they see as an attack on their culture and livelihood by the white man.
Indian tribes from all parts of Venezuela have condemned what they see as an attack on their culture and livelihood by the white man. Representatives from more than 20 tribes met near the Columbian border last Wednesday (10 October) for six days to discuss the 200-year-old struggle between the white colonisers of the New World and the original inhabitants of the Americas.
SYNOPSIS: The sign outside the Indian's meeting place at Paraguaipoa welcomed tribes from all over Venezuela. Many had to face a tiring and long journey to this city 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Maracaibo at the foot of the Sierra de Perija.
It was initially a reunion of Venezuelan Indian tribes; a meeting of families and clans. Those who came to Paraguaipoa represented some 300 thousand Indians. However not all of the delegates who intended to come to the meeting could attend. Some complained about the lack of money to make the trip, others had problems with transportation. Some delegates from the Amazon claimed that Government officials had made it deliberately difficult for them to leave.
The organiser of the convention was Noelly Pacaterra, a chief of the Guajira tribe. She received a warm reception when she addressed the meeting.
The Guajira live near the border with Columbia. It is an area renowned for smuggling. Some of the natives have been reduced to a life of crime, and poverty ever since the Spanish Conquest.
But in their, poverty, the Guajira's art and handicraft survive. The women make colourful rugs and knit hammocks which serve as their travelling camp beds.
The six-day conference was more than a plea for help by the native Indians who see their livelihood and culture threatened by the white man. It was a colourful demonstration of their way of life, an exhibition of the Indian culture.
After spending the days discussing ways of saving their culture, the nights belonged to the Indian spirits of celebration.
All the different tribes performed their traditional dances accompanied by the Guajira playing the "Cuatro" a four-flute wind instrument which resembles the Greek panpipes.