AMAZONIE

THE AMAZON

The Amazon rain forest is an enormous expanse of territory that collects the river flow.

The Amazon burst into Peruvian consciousness in the late 19th century during the Rubber Boom. Harvesting the sap from the wild expanses of the rain forest is one of the lesser know tales of adventure and exploitation in the Amazon. Entire native tribes were put in force labor. Iquitos was the center of Peru’s rubber trade, while in neighboring Brazil much larger fortunes flowed through Manaus. By 1910, the rubber trade had seen its better days because the British had snatched the seeds of Hevea brasiliensis tree and transferred them to their Asian colonies, mainly Ceylon and Malaysia.

Since the 1950s, the Amazon has been an area of expansion as settlers moved down from President Fernando Belaunde saw the Amazon as the equivalent of the American west, a frontier with boundless opportunity. He proposed that the Marginal Highway (referring to its
local on the eastern slopes of the Andes) transverse the foothills and join the penetration roads into the jungle. But the settlers found themselves unable to sustain profitable agriculture. But the roads were constantly being cut by landslides or turned into muddy ruts that swallowed trucks. Farmers frequently ended up with produce rotting in the fields or in trucks. New government schemes for corn, rice, palm oil, or bananas. In the end, many farmers found out that the only profitable crop was coca, the legendary plant that was chewed to relieve fatigue.

Since the 1970s, the Amazon has been caught between the risks of exploiting its natural resources, like petroleum and natural case, and the growing importance of the cocaine trade in the local economy.

www.shamancenter.org
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