Fernando Santos Granero

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3. Iñapari Indian peons in the rubber trading post of Carlos Scharff, Purus River, circa 1903.

In the 1870s and 1880s, rubber was mostly extracted by mestizo peons and catechized Indians from the old Jesuit missions in the Huallaga, Marañon, and Upper Amazon Rivers. When the demand for rubber soared in the 1890s and labor became scarce, rubber bosses began to recruit “savage” –non catechized- Indians by persuading their chiefs to accept industrial goods in exchange for rubber. Whenever Indians were reluctant to enter into these arrangements, rubber bosses resorted to correrías, or raids aimed at obtaining children and young women, who were then raised and trained as servants, peons and sexual slaves.

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