Thursday 20 July 2017

Casement's Amazonians see light after a century

Matthew Cooper

A UNIVERSITY researcher has discovered photographic images of two native Amazonians who were brought to Britain in 1911 in a bid to highlight human rights abuses.

Dr Lesley Wylie, a lecturer in Latin American Studies at the University of Leicester, believes the images are those of a man and a boy shipped to London by Irish revolutionary Roger Casement. Dr Wylie made the discovery among a collection relating to the period of the rubber boom in Putumayo -- a Colombian border region in the Amazon -- held at the University of Cambridge.

The images have been published as part of a research paper on Casement.

Casement made trips to the Amazon in 1910 and 1911 on behalf of the British government to investigate alleged atrocities against the indigenous population by a rubber company.

The diplomat is known to have arranged for the two "natives" -- named Omarino and Ricudo -- to be shipped back so they could be painted and photographed. Dr Wylie, who has published the photographs in the Irish Studies Review, said: "The photographs essentially reduce the subjects to racial "types". Although the catalogue card identified the sitters simply as 'Two slaves from Putomayo (sic) river, Up. Amazon, Colombia', I suspected immediately they were the two Amazonians that Casement had brought to London in 1911," he said.

Irish Independent

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