Michael's Dispatches

Panama: Jaguar Hunting — while others Hunt Migrants— literally

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Darien Jungle, Panama

Unedited Mind-dump

This morning, after Embera Indian with Quapi Baby, and logging truck accident, we came across a peccary baby in the jungle road. Peccary baby ran off into jungle. I asked if peccary are dangerous here. Embera guide told me that in some places, like South America, peccary eat people and people eat peccary, but here it’s mostly people eat peccary.

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About 10 days ago, in another Embera village, I saw a man with a baby peccary following him around. He kept peccary snout taped. Or so it was one morning. Another morning the peccary snout was free. An Embera told the peccary are very loyal and will bite you worse than a dog, and this peccary loved the man it follows and will bite you without barking if you come close to Peccary Man.

On YouTube, you can find video of westerners saying peccary are not dangerous and saying this is just bad propaganda. But villagers tell a different story.

This morning, after Embera Lady with Baby Quapi, logging truck accident, dangerous bridge, and baby peccary, we came into another Embera village.

Inside the village near a river with dugout canoes, tiny deer skulls hung on a wall.

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I asked where is the hunter. An Embera Hunter man emerged. I asked how he hunted these? Poison darts? (Some Embera still use poison darts, I am told, made from poison frogs.)

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Another Embera told me the hunter has a .22, but he seemed to mix that with 20 gauge shotgun. The Embera hunter showed the gun which he has under permission of the Mayor, whom I happen to know.

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I asked if he hunts day or night. Night, he said.

I asked if he likes dark or bright moon. Dark.

All Embera in all Embera villages I have asked told me same. They hunt on dark nights. Too difficult on bright moon nights.

How did you get this jaguar? How did you get close enough to a cat at night in the jungle to kill it with a 20 gauge?

The jaguar had killed eight or ten pigs recently. Jaguar caught another pig in or by the river. Embera hunter shot the jaguar. If my translation was correct, this pig lived.

Tiny flies and tiny ants were coming to the skull. It looked fresh.

When did you kill this? Embera Hunter said he got it 15 days ago. (Which was very dark, I happen to know. I pay attention to moon while in wars and wilderness — 15 days ago was waxing crescent phase.)

Embera hunter said this jaguar was very big. Required four men to carry it.

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I asked if he ate the Jaguar. He laughed and said no. I said I would have eaten it. All the Embera laughed. “You would eat the Jaguar?” Asked the hunter. “Yes. I am from Florida.” They all laughed. I was serious. I did not mention that when I was with Hmong people in Laos, the villagers brought in some sort of rigid cat. We ate it.

Back to business. I am learning a great deal about migrants and the incredible problems they face. They are dying and being raped in large numbers. That much we know.

My guess at this time is that at least 5% are dying while crossing Darien Gap. I cannot support this. Numbers are difficult because we do not know how many migrants enter from Colombia vs. how many exit near me here in Darien, Panama.

This is an educated guess, but a guess. Put it like this — far more than 1% are dying, and must be north of 5%. I would bet my life that more than 1% are dying, and bet a hundred bucks that the true number is between 5-10%.

The percent of women being raped must be something like 90%. (They say the pretty and light-skinned women all get raped.)

And if they make it through Darien, they’ve got to get through Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, the Cartels of Mexico, cross the US border, and possibly die in the deserts of America.

This trip is hell. A modern Trail of Tears.

Again, thank you for your support. Because I need it. This is expensive and sometimes dangerous. Thank you for permitting unedited mind-dumps. Helps with output.

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