22 May 2019 BrazilBolsonaroIndigenous Peoples Jair Bolsonaro may be in power, but the Sateré indigenous people are not taking his hostility sitting down. Sue Branford reports from the Brazilian Amazon. The young indigenous man, bent double in pain, uttered a deep, heart-wrenching moan. The pain was unbearable. After a while he withdrew from the circle of chanting people and threw himself on the ground, keeping his swollen hands up in the air to avoid painful contact. I knew he was bringing shame on himself by showing so clearly that he was in agony. Along with a dozen others, dressed mainly in Bermuda shorts and t-shirts, he was going through the ritual of the tucandeira. This is a rite of passage by which Sateré-Mawé youths make the transition from childhood to adulthood: enduring bites from scores of tucandeira (Paraponera clavata) – known in English as the bullet ant, because its bite causes pain comparable with that of being shot. The bite goes deep: the tucandeira’s fangs, which are so powerful that they can cut through tree branches, transmit the poison directly into the central nervous system, causing excruciating pain. The ensuing fever, sickness and swelling can last for several days, but… Read full this story
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