on Taita Juan Agreda Chindoy
Help Free A Major Indigenous Leader Imprisoned in the U.S.
On Tuesday, October 19, 2010, indigenous Colombian healer Taita Juan Agreda Chindoy was detained in the Houston International Airport. He was formally arrested by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) for possession of his traditional medicine Ayahuasca. He is now being charged as a federal criminal and is facing up to 20 years in federal prison.
[From Free Taita Juan]
On a not so positive note, and speaking of Indigenous leaders and holders of Traditional knowledge, some sad news from the US recently is detailed at the website above. It is heartening to see the explosion of support for Taita Juan in the social media networks and, I am sure, in the material realm.
Whilst the expression of outrage is understandable, Taita Juan's arrest serves as a reminder to all who actively participate in ceremonial relationship with the Sacred Medicines. In most countries in the world these plant sacraments, absurdly in my own opinion, remain prohibited by law with extreme penalties for their possession and ingestion. It behooves all who have an interest or relationship with these plants to acquaint themselves with the local and federal legislations which pertain to the plants usage in their country. Whilst it is true that the Teacher Plants can offer protection to individuals and groups, there are aways opposing forces and as Steve Beyer highlights in his excellent Singing to the Plants, the realm of Curanderismo [at least in the regions from which Taita Juan hails] deals explicitly with both the light and the dark. Protection in this context is hard won and requires vigilance.
A recent arrest of Santo Daime members in the UK, arrests in Chile and less recently in Australia amongst others show that, although some jurisdictions have a more mature perspective, the brutality of the state can still be swiftly and unfortunately brought to bear on those whose aims and actions may be of great integrity.
Whilst personal work with the Sacred Medicines is imperative and civil disobedience, as Martin Luther King, Gandhi and others have shown, is at times a necessity, the only way we can prevent this kind of travesty from occurring is to work towards the change of legislation that makes it possible in the first first place. Overt public civil disobedience has historically shown to have a high cost for the individuals involved, forcing as it does, the hand of the imperial power of the time. Let us work towards a world in which we who revere the possibilities for healing afforded by these Sacred Medicines can sit down openly and peacefully throughout the world to celebrate our chosen spiritual expression.
My voice joins others in the cry for a rapid, gentle resolution to this terrible situation for Taita Juan. My prayers are with him.