Nazareth Cabrera is like a manicurist, they say. Everything that is bitter, she sweetens and makes good; what is dark, she makes light. This is how she is described among her people here in the Uitoto de Mesay Indigenous community in Araracuara, in Colombia’s Amazonian department of Caquetá. Cabrera is known for defending her people and their land from mining threats, from harassment by illegal armed groups, and from outsiders who seek to impose themselves on the community. Another thing that they say of her: that at age 52, she is not afraid of anything, and that her strength is possessed by few. It shows. The Uitoto people live in the Andoque de Aduche reservation, which they share with the Andoque, Muinane and Nonuya nations. According to legend, it is sacred land. But that did not prevent the governor of the reservation, Milciades Andoque, from asking the National Mining Agency to declare almost 99% of the region an indigenous mining zone six years ago. Three years later, his son, Levy Andoque, convinced several “grandparents” — Indigenous spiritual guides — to sign a document requesting the same. Cabrera says the elders were promised that with mining they would never be hungry or lack money again. She says they were told many stories and they believed them, despite the fact that she tried to warn them. “You tell them, ‘Grandfather, that’s a lie, nobody gives money away.’ And they ask why they cheat. And who fills his pockets? The leaders who live…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer