1964-2016 – The Civil War in Colombia Drives Indians and Ayahuasca from the Amazon into Cities
The civil war in Colombia between revolutionary guerrillas and the government subjected indigenous peoples in the jungle to violence from both sides. Over the decades of the war’s duration, more than a quarter of Colombia’s 1.4 million Indians were forced to flee their tribal lands. They took refuge in the slum areas of Colombia’s major cities, often living in extreme poverty.
Indigenous elders or taitas (from the Quechua word for father) continued to lead yagé ceremonies to keep their communities together and to help heal their people from the traumas they had suffered. Their ceremonies were also open to urban people of other races.
Small groups of yagé (ayahuasca) drinkers formed around these taitas in various Colombian cities. By 2014, according to reports, over 80 yagé ceremonies were being conducted each weekend in Bogotá alone. Only indigenous people are considered legitimate yagé practitioners in Colombia; unlike Peru, Colombia has no mestizo ayahuasca culture, nor does Ecuador.
Ceaser, M. (2008). Colombia’s Cofan still fighting for survival. SFGate, July 8, 2008.
Cultural Survival (n.d.). Colombia’s indigenous people struggle with civil war and its consequences. Cultural Survival website
Hill, David (2018). ‘The war goes on’: one tribe caught up in Colombia’s armed conflict. The Guardian, June 27, 2018.
Martinez Bermudez, Elvis (2014). Indígenas denuncian que falsos chamanes preparan yagé con burundanga. Eltiempo.com website
Perilla Daza, Deissy Cristina and Corredor Tellez, Juanita (2009). “La Toma del Yagé en Bogotá: religión, ritual, o estilo?” Revista UIS Humanidades, Vol. 37 No. 2, Julio-Diciembre de 2009.
Weiskopf, Jimmy (2004). Yage: The New Purgatory. Villegas Editores.
No author given. (2014). Mirada a un ritual de yagé en La Calera. Es Espectador, Bogotá, Colombia.