Meet The Chief

Written by: Callie

Posted on July 31, 2013

Cesar-Bustamante-Ashaninka-tribal-chiefCesar Bustamante is as an Ashaninka tribal chief. He has spent his life defending his people’s rainforest.

In the eighties and nineties he fought against the Maoist guerrillas, the Shining Path. We won’t go into the horrendous details here that this war in Peru entailed. In brief, thousands of Ashaninka were killed. Thousands more fled their homes.

The war’s frontline was battled out at Cesar’s village, Cutivireni. Cutivireni is now the heart of Cool Earth’s Ashaninka project.

Cesar led his villagers to into the highlands where they hid for over a decade. With the women and children safe, he returned to fight. With knives and arrows he fought against the Shining Path’s machine guns. He won.

It won’t surprise you that the film rights to Cesar’s early life have been bought.

Next came the illegal loggers who were queuing up to get their hands on Cutivireni’s valuable hardwood trees. When his village got an offer from loggers that they couldn’t refuse, Cesar found allies. He contacted Cool Earth.

Since then we’ve helped ensure Cesar’s village has not lost a single tree to loggers. What’s more, they’ve rallied together with their neighbours to form a living shield to make millions of acres of adjacent forest inaccessible to logging.

However in this part of Peru, things are never quiet for long. Now the threat comes from the cocaine trade. The Ené Valley has become the world’s most productive cocaine region on the planet. The narcos have more guns and are just as intent on destroying the rainforest.  Land colonists are arriving to the Ené, determined to turn pristine forest into coca plantations.

As for Cesar? His village have voted him out of ‘retirement’ (which for him is working as the village nurse) and back to President of Cutivireni. You can be sure that the forest will be safe on his watch.

To find out more about the problems facing the rainforest, and how CO2Count and Cool Earth are helping to protect the rainforest and its local communities, please visit our website.