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Sunday, February 24, 2008

THE CUNA INDIANS OF PANAMA No. 1.

THE CUNA INDIANS OF PANAMA No. 1.

GENERAL ASPECTS

This is my first experience with the Cuna Indians of Panama. They are a civilization not well known and appreciated by the general Panamanian population. My understanding of the Cunas is not very much at this time as I begin my study of their culture. Most of what I know or do not know has been dependent upon my Panamanian friends who do not know much themselves of this indigenous population who lives among them.

GEOGRAPHY
The Cunas have carved out a narrow strip of land – San Blas – on the North of the Panamanian Isthmus extending from the Gulf of San Blas on the West to the Colombian border on the East. As a person from the US it was difficult for me, at first, to appreciate that most of Panama lies East/West and not North/South with the Atlantic Ocean on the North and the Pacific on the South. This area of San Blas is Cuna land that they have essentially stated is their Country.

Many of the Cunas live on the many offshore islands with some villages on the Panamanian mainland.

CULTURE
I have agreed to spend a significant amount of time with the Cunas who admit very few outsiders into their communities. Being a Pediatrician I was struck by the significant degree of mortality in children under 10 years of age, chiefly from infections. Although the Cunas enjoy longevity, they must get beyond age 10. Considering longevity, the percentage of older people within the Cuna civilization far exceeds the Panamanians living on the mainland.

I just returned from a 1 ½ day meeting with the Chief-of-the-Chiefs and other “regular” Chiefs high up in the mountains far away from what most of us might call “civilization.” We met with the leaders of the tribes during this visit. Their interests seemed more concerned about preserving their borders. But they listened to me as I proposed visiting their communities to see what I might be able to offer with regards to medical care for their children. I told them that I did not wish to interfere with their medicine men and that I appreciated their treatment with herbs is very important and probably related to their longevity. But that I believed that if a disease progresses very rapidly as it does with many childhood infections death can come more rapidly than it would take the herbal approach to take hold and cure.

The Chief-of-the-Chiefs, who I will call “El Jefe” understood. This man was most remarkable. He was 83 years old and has traveled world wide –to North America, Alaska, and I believe South East Asia. He knew about GPS technology which was going to be used to map out their borders. His eyes were wide open every time something was shown to him on the computer. The other Chiefs watched me as I was explaining email (correo electronica), and as I was using Skype to call my friends. There was no cell phone towers that I saw, and, hence, no cell phones could be used. But the place where I was staying as a guest had electricity, a satellite dish and a source of WiFi.

Their civilization is ruled by a Chief of each village with other representatives within each village. All are elected, some for 2, others for 5-6 years. Then there is the Chief-of-the-Chiefs, also elected. Although he has great power, he cannot make many decisions unilaterally. He must consult with the other Chiefs and lower representatives. It appeared much like our President and Congress. They picked a good and most intelligent “Jefe.”

Most of the communication went from Spanish to Cuna language and back. In my case, although my Spanish is pretty good, I trust more my English to communicate in depth on important issues. So for me it went from English to Spanish to Cuna with the return route in reverse. I promised that in due time as I live among them I would try to learn their language. In the group was a Cuna lady with her 13 year old daughter, already learning English.

THE FACILITY

I was invited by Nathan Gray, CEO, of the Earthtrain Group (www.earthtrain.org)to stay at their facility deep in the Panamanian Rainforest. A visit to their web site will describe what this phenomenal group does. The facility contained two very large somewhat open buildings with some smaller facilities. Power was created from a 4 inch plastic pipe which extended high up into the mountain, probable at least a mile or so to a source of water. The water traveled down the pipe so when it reached down to the where the buildings were the force of the water was greater that what I was used to at home with 40-60 pounds per square inches in my water tank. I would have liked more but the limits of the holding tank prevented it. This water powered a turbine generator. Most of the electricity was used continuously and some stored in a series of batteries. There was a converter to transform the electricity from DC into AC for usage by the equipment, lights, and computers and to transmit to other areas of the compound without a drop in voltage. It was unfortunate there was not a way to sell the excess electricity to the power companies for such a system does not exist in Panama, as it is in the States. The electricity was continuous as the water flowing down from higher elevations was natural and always there.

NB:

I would like to reach out to readers of my Blog all over the world and ask for some small donation ($10-15, not much), so we can purchase medicines for the Cuna Indian children. All I have is my time, medical knowledge, and expertise to treat these children but not the money to purchase needed medicines, especially antibiotics and anti-parasitic medications.

Please send to: nicola michael Tauraso, M.D., PTY 11125, STE 104, 11010 NW 30th Street, Doral, Florida 33172. Be sure to send your email along with your donations so I can send you an accounting of how the money is spent and updates on our progress. Thank you.

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.
Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic
www.drtauraso.com

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you start a non profit organization since you are asking people to make donations?

March 4, 2008 at 11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

why would i send my donation to a florida address when you are living in panama, something doesn't sound right with this, sorry i will not donate to something that i just dont trust.

March 9, 2008 at 10:05 AM  
Blogger Dr. Tauraso said...

Concerning the first comment above, I do not have a not-for-profit 501-C3 organization. I am working with my sponsors who are a non profit organization: http://earthtrain.org/. As soon as we work it out I will post it on my Blog. Thank you.

Dr. Tauraso

Concerning the second comment, I use a Florida Forwarding address because it is cheaper in postage to send there. My Panamanian address is: nicola michael Tauraso, M.D.,Suite 11125, ALDO 0832-1236, World Trade Center, Panama, Rep. de Panama. I hope this will alleviate your concerns. We really need money to purchase drugs for the Kuna Indians and I promise to use the funds wisely and give a report to each of the contributors. Thank you for your interest and concern. You are always free to write me personally at: drtauraso@drtauraso.com

Dr. Tauraso

ps: My Bibliography will give you some indication of my background.

March 15, 2008 at 11:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to http://earthtrain.org and nowhere is it asking for any donations for the cause you have stated. fishy fishy fishy.

March 19, 2008 at 1:38 PM  
Blogger Dr. Tauraso said...

Please watch the name calling. I am trying to do a good thing here donating my time without pay to hepl the Kuna Indian children. I am working with www.Earthtrain.org and they are working out the details for the donations. These things take time. As soon as things are worked out I will publish it on my Blog. Please be patient. I do appreciate our continued interest.

Dr. Tauraso

March 19, 2008 at 2:04 PM  

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