The Amazon

“The Amazon is in the hands of the drug trade,” by Paolo Moiola, an Interview with Roberto Jaramillo, Jesuit priest and anthropologist, at Latinamericanpress:

“Colombian Jesuit priest Roberto Jaramillo has lived in the Brazilian Amazon for the last 15 years. Since 2005, he is the regional leader of the Society of Jesus in the Amazon state. As an anthropologist, he has studied problems facing indigenous peoples living in urban areas.

Latinamerica Press collaborator Paolo Moiola spoke with Jaramillo in Manaus about the way of life in the Amazon, the situation facing indigenous people and development.

The idea of the Amazon these days is not very realistic. Is that true?

Yes. The imaginary Amazon does not coincide with reality. The image is one of a land without people, while there are 40 million inhabitants, most of them in urbanized areas, with all the problems that urbanization in Latin America poses.

Almost 2 million people live in Manaus, but only 17 percent of them have access to a sewage system. For the most part, the majority of the biological and chemical waste is sent into the environment, into the water. Another paradox: in a city on the banks of the world’s largest river, only 32 percent have running water in their homes, while the rest of the population has to make do with unpurified water. These scenarios point to something else: in Amazon cities — Manaus, Santarém, Belém and some smaller ones — the gap between rich and poor is manifested more in the cities than along the coast. In other words, in the Amazon, the concentration of wealth is much greater.”

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Paolo Moiola

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