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Story Publication logo October 13, 2019

Between the Cross and the Electric Saw (Portuguese)


Indigenous mother asks missionary Marta Rueda to baptize her son. Photo by Rodrigo Pedroso. Peru, 2019.

Catholic missionaries first arrived in the Amazon five centuries ago. Who are they and what are they...


In a jungle clearing a yagua indigenous woman announces to Mexican missionary Marta Rueda that three babies were born in the Primavera Indigenous community, which is located in the Peruvian Amazon. The mothers want them to be Catholic. The missionary replies that next week a priest will be coming to baptise them, but she knows the chances are slim. A priest is due to visit Caballo Cocha within the next month. Caballo Cocha is a small Peruvian town of 25,000 inhabitants with paved roads and houses on stilts near the frontier with Brazil and Colombia. But he is not expected to visit the villages, an hour by boat and another hour trekking through the forest. Marta Rueda's Caballo Cocha parish, called Our Lady of Mercedes, has been without a priest since 2013. Four Franciscan missionaries run the parish, and they rarely visit the Peruvian communities along the world's biggest river.

To read the full story in Portuguese, "Entre a Cruz e a Motosserra," visit the Piauí website.