“On a hot day in May 1887, a group of Bolivian soldiers halted their march across a flat savanna laced by lakes and tributaries of the Amazon. They were taking ten indigenous prisoners back to their headquarters in Trinidad, the local capital, but stopped to administer several hundred lashes to each. The soldiers took special delight in whipping an eighty-year-old man before finishing him off with gunshots. They saw the old man, Andrés Guayocho, not as the pathetic figure who begged them for a drink of water before dying, but as the leader of a major indigenous rebellion. . . . The local government ruthlessly crushed Guayocho’s millenarian movement not so much because of its religious unorthodoxy, but because it deprived the white elite of the Mojo labor necessary for the extraction and export of rubber for the world market.”

Now that...

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