On July 5th, 2021 the President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins, highlighted on a video message the indigenous peoples of Peru.
Mr Higgins has recorded his special message in both Spanish and English to mark the celebration of the 200th anniversary of Peru’s independence.
In his message he recalled Roger Casement, who documented human rights abuses in the rubber industry in the Peruvian Amazon during the first decade of the 20th century.
“In the inhumane treatment of so many Indigenous workers in Putumayo, Casement saw and heard echoes of the suffering inflicted on so many Irish women and men in his own native land”. Mr Higgins said.
During his speech he recollected his meeting in 2017, while he was visiting Peru and other South American countries; with a delegation of Putumayo indigenous descendants of those whose lives were described by Casement.
“It was so moving for me to receive a delegation from Putumayo during my 2017 visit. They had been travelling by different methods to Lima. We discussed Roger Casement and how the ‘basket of sorrow’ of memory was being handled by them”.
In his video message Mr Higgins said “Peru has influenced the lives of so many through its history” and that the country played an important role internationally.
Born in Ireland in 1864, Roger Casement is considered one of the martyrs of the Irish Independency, who was influenced in his believes by he witnessed in the Peruvian Amazon.
In 1910, as a British Consular, he documented the slavery of the Bora, Witoto, Andoke and other tribes living in the Putumayo basin.
Those people were enslaved and forced to work for the Peruvian Amazon Company.
He spent nearly two months investigating the mutilation, torture, rape, and exploitation of the Putumayo indigenous people.
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