American Renaissance

Home       Previous Story       Next Story       View Comments       Post a Comment

After Teen Suicides, an Argentine Tribe Outlaws ‘White’ Vices

Sara Miller Llana, Christian Science Monitor, November 2, 2007

Every Saturday night Victoriano Espindola would dance, drink, and often end up in a fight. He lost his left eye in one brawl.

But now the 21-year-old spends quiet nights with his parents and six siblings in this indigenous village in a tropical corner of Argentina.

The village is in the midst of a quarantine called for by the cacique, or traditional leader, after two teens shocked the community by committing suicide in September. All members now must be home by 7 p.m., alcohol is strictly forbidden, and all youths must attend traditional dance classes and consultations with elders.

The cacique, Silvino Moreira, says that the white culture that surrounds the village on all sides has encroached on their Guarani culture and that they must protect themselves from all its many “vices,” including alcohol, drugs, and even the radio. It’s an issue indigenous groups worldwide have faced for centuries, but the unusually drastic measures Mr. Moreira has enacted are key to preserving their culture in today’s world, say community members here.

“When I was young, we sat around as a family when it got dark and drank maté [tea] together,” Moreira says. “Now the youngsters want to go to the center of town, watch soap operas or play on the computer. Then they want to smoke and drink. We have to teach them about their traditions and strengthen our spirituality before we lose them.”

Fortin Mborore, a town of about 750 residents, is just miles from one of the most visited tourist sites in Latin America, the waterfalls of Iguazú. Homes, which dot expansive fields of red earth, are made of wooden planks. The village contains no stores, and its only school ends at the seventh grade. Most residents, who speak to each other in a dialect of Guarani, live by selling necklaces made of seeds to tourists at the waterfalls.


Teen suicides new to the community

It is this collision of cultures that the community says is ultimately to blame for the suicides of the two teens, who both hanged themselves within a week of one another in September. “This has never happened before,” says Rosendo Moreira, who coordinates the youth education program, which includes teaching traditional dance, their religion. The program also teaches respect for one another, their elders, and the forest in which they live.

He says that as teens adopt the lifestyles of Westerners, even with such seemingly innocuous acts as surfing the net, they are more alienated from their roots and lose of sense of identity and purpose. “Our culture is sacred for us,” he says.

Edgardo Barchuk, a local reporter who covers the indigenous communities of Misiones, agrees that the effort is a positive step for a community whose loss of culture is evident, as teens are often found in the center of town drinking. “They sit in the very middle, surrounded by non-indigenous communities,” he says. “They cannot handle alcohol the way whites can. This is an effort to save their community.”


A teenager’s hard lesson

Despite the fact that his cousin and good friend were the two young people who committed suicide, Delfino Benitez says the curfew, which requires that he be at home with his family each night at dusk, is unfair.


The local police round up teens found in the center past curfew and take them home, says Ramón Armando Irala, who heads one of the police departments in Puerto Iguazú.

“Underage drinking is a problem in all of the state, but it’s accentuated in Fortin Mborore because they are losing their roots,” he says. “We fully support their initiative.”

Those in Fortin Mborore say that already, just a month into the experiment, family life has improved. “The adolescents need to sleep more and go to church, not drink and fight,” says Maria Felipa Espindola, Victoriano Espindola’s mother. “Now we are all together. There is more happiness.”


Original article

(Posted on November 2, 2007)

Top      Home      Previous story       Next Story       Post a Comment      Search


I thought profiling suicides as a “white thing” was racist, and amounted to denying suicidal tendencies in non-whites.

Posted by St. Louis CofCC Blogmeister at 6:03 PM on November 2

I think there is ample evidence that American Indians are more susceptible to the ill effects of alcohol than are Europeans. They’ve had less time to evolve any immunity. So it makes sense for them to ban alcohol. Also, I can’t really blame them for banning radio either. Few things have been more poisonous to our own culture than the mass media.

Posted by WR the elder at 12:15 AM on November 3

Curfews for children, families spending time together, discipline, sobriety, responsibility… I remember when that was white culture.

I wish these people the best of luck. Would that we had such leaders.

Posted by FilthyRacistPig at 5:54 AM on November 3

Let me know the address of the village. I think I’ll move there and find some peace and quiet — and refreshing sanity that no longer exists in this Western culture.

Posted by S Barringer at 12:38 AM on November 4

I live in Argentina, I remember this piece of news. The thing is: it is wrong to blame white people for suicides… but on the other hand one claim is right: our vices are destroying ALL of our youth, not only those amerindian aborigins, but also our white youth and culture.

Posted by Last Survivors at 8:24 AM on November 4

“When I was young, we sat around as a family when it got dark and drank maté [tea] together,”

After a hard day of sitting together and drinking mate, no doubt.

Posted by whitey's Knapsack at 12:25 PM on November 4

Interesting that the (white) reporter quoted in the story would say of the Indians, “They can’t handle alcohol like Whites can.” Could that be his assent to the proposition that a lot of the problems non-whites tend to have are rooted in genetics? Wonder what the multi-cultis in this country would think about that?
It’s also interesting that the tribal elders want to get their young people to abandon what they see as the negative aspects ot the “White man’s culture.” Now if we could just get OUR kids to quit listening to rap and hip-hop …

Posted by Wayne Engle at 1:27 PM on November 4

If their cultuire really is sacred to them, they should withdraw from Western life completely. Selling cheap tat to tourists leaves the young in cultural limbo, on the bottom rung of Western society, with few of the rewards. To try and maintain a traditional society when surrounded by tourists taking snapshots creates too many contradictions, and will leave the youngsters feeling like they are not part of a real culture, but a museum piece to be gawped at. I feel sorry for them, but I can’t see this working. All cultures and races require seperation to survive. Simple as that.

Posted by Regulation18b at 2:35 PM on November 4

“Curfews for children, families spending time together, discipline, sobriety, responsibility… I remember when that was white culture.
I wish these people the best of luck. Would that we had such leaders.”

Although the white race has been the most successful in terms of science and technology, our art and music and literature have degenerated, and we are becoming the victims of our own materialistic, decadent and permissive culture. Our slide into this slime has not only been the fault of liberal influence. The desire for career advancement, superficial pleasures and monetary goals has put our child rearing on the back burner. Our values are all wrong if we wish to restore our racial vitality.

Posted by at 8:45 PM on November 4

This tribe doesn’t seem to have been too enriched by the multicultural setting in which it’s found (or rather, lost) itself.

Posted by H. Dumpty at 10:05 AM on November 5

All cultures and races require seperation to survive. Simple as that. Posted by Regulation18b at 2:35 PM on November 4

This is the crushing reality of our era; that people who have evolved over thousands of years in drastically different environments are forced into close proximity( largely by whites ) — and facilitated ironically, by the white man’s technological inventions ( auto, ship, train, aircraft ).

Posted by at 1:36 PM on November 5

Top      Home      Previous story       Next Story      Search

Post a Comment

Commenting guidelines: We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. Statements of fact and well-considered opinion are welcome, but we will not post comments that include obscenities or insults, whether of groups or individuals. We reserve the right to hold our critics to lower standards.

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)