Amazon Tears

The Amazon Rubber Boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries may seem like ancient history, but its effects are still very much alive.
Being related to the extraction of the latex from the rubber trees and its commercialization to produce tires for bicycles, cars and other types of vehicles, the growing necessity and interest in this natural resource resulted in a large expansion of European colonization in the area; attracting immigrant workers, generating wealth but also causing cultural and social transformations, especially in the Amazon indigenous populations. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the latex tree in the indigenous language is known as the tree that cries.

BOLIVIA - Beni Department

One of the most affected regions by the Rubber Boom was the Bolivian amazon, in the north of the country. There the traces can still be seen: a ghost town that in its splendour times bragged about all advances of a modern city, people's faces that show the miscegenation of the time, the remains of a train that transported the rubber production from Bolivia to Brazil and then reached the west.

However, the hardest vestiges are those that are not seen at first sight. According to calculations by the anthropologist and writer Wade Davis, for every ton of rubber produced, ten Indians were murdered and hundreds were marked for life by lashes, wounds and amputations. Nowadays, we can see Indigenous groups and their languages that are on the verge of extinction, struggling to survive the effects of the Rubber Boom.

How do these indigenous people live? What problems do they face today? We are going to immerse ourselves in a documentary project that narrates the consequences of the Amazon Rubber Boom in Bolivia and how these remain in the present.

In 2019, it will be 140 years from the onset of the Rubber Boom. Besides, that year has been declared International Year of Indigenous Languages by the United Nations, a distinction promoted by Bolivia. It’s time to remember a past that has a lot to do with the present. It’s time to attract attention to not only the loss but also the need for conservation of these languages and cultures that represent a particular, unique and different view of the world.

SPONSORS

SIGMA

Our equipment is an extension of us. We need it to work consistently, and flawlessly. And that is a responsibility we take very seriously. SIGMA delivers the technology that allows us to take our photography wherever our inspiration takes us.

SIGMA does not have Super Bowl commercials, and paid celebrities do not endorse their products. But professionals, and people who really know photography, always have something positive to say. They want to be known for the quality of their products, and the best way to do that is supporting the work of their photographers.

If you want to know more about our ongoing projects, contact us and discover how you could be part of it:

BOLIVIA TEAM

This documentary project will be developed  with the effort of  a multidisciplinary team composed by:

Mingo Venero

Photographer / Camera

Wayra Ficapal

Journalist

Alex Rodal

Research

Javier Corso

Coordinator

Discover other OAK stories in cask

OAK cask is the place where you can follow our ongoing projects; where we are, what we do, how we work. It is where our projects mature until they reach their finest audiovisual quality and the utmost journalistic rigor. Only then do we consider having a true OAK story.

MATAGI

Japan