BOGOTA: In a heartfelt ceremony held in Bogota, Colombian President Gustavo Petro bestowed medals of the Order of Boyaca, the country's second highest military distinction and highest civilian honor, to indigenous and military rescuers involved in the successful operation to find four children who were lost for 40 days in the Amazon jungle following a tragic plane crash. The children, aged one to 13, miraculously survived the crash that claimed the lives of their mother, the pilot, and another adult on May 1. The Indigenous Muruy people, along with other volunteers, eventually located the children on June 9 after an extensive and intricate search effort.
During the ceremony, President Petro emphasized that the true reward lay in the children's survival, stating that "more than the medals, which are symbolic... the great prize, the great reward, is called life." He commended the children for relying on the ancestral knowledge they had acquired as members of Colombia's Indigenous communities, underscoring the importance of unity and collaboration. Petro emphasized that the rescue mission exemplified the harmonious integration of Western techniques, such as satellite technology employed by the military, and traditional wisdom, including the use of indigenous potions like ayahuasca and the invocation of jungle spirits.
Petro highlighted the significance of the joint efforts by the military and Indigenous rescuers, stating, "Together, they brought the children back." This successful operation challenged any debate about the superiority of Western or traditional wisdom. The children's remarkable survival owed much to the guidance of their ancestral knowledge and the invaluable contribution of the Indigenous members of the search team. As the children continue their recovery at a military hospital in Bogota, their ordeal serves as a powerful testament to the resilience and resourcefulness of the human spirit.
In recognition of their unwavering dedication, even in the face of adversity, President Petro also awarded a medal to Wilson, a military rescue dog who went missing during the operation. Despite ongoing efforts to locate Wilson, his rescue is now deemed unlikely. General Pedro Sanchez, the leader of the rescue operation, announced plans to erect monuments in honor of the six-year-old Belgian Malinois shepherd, commemorating his bravery and sacrifice.
This extraordinary tale of survival, unity, and the convergence of diverse knowledge systems highlights the triumph of collaboration and showcases the profound connection between humanity and nature.