FREE TAITA JUAN In January, 2010, a delegation from Kansas City went to southern Colombia (South America) to do a series of Community Development Workshops. While there, we visited “Taita” (Leader/Healer) Juan Agreda Chindoy. He spoke to us at length about his work with traditional medicine. He was patient, articulate, and very serious about helping those who need his services. He is clearly a widely-respected leader of his community. In fact, a documentary filmmaker from Europe filmed part of our meeting with Taita Juan. (We were taken to visit him by a Catholic priest, who had great respect for him, and for his father Taita Martin before him.)
Case Info On Tuesday, October 19, 2010, Cametsa traditional healer and Colombian national, Taita Juan Bautista Agreda Chindoy was detained in the Houston International Airport. His baggage was searched and he was formally arrested by ICE (Immigration, Customs, and Enforcement) for possession of his ancestral medicine, ‘Yaje’ or ‘Ayahuasca’. Upon revealing the presence of DMT in the liquid medicine, he was charged with possession with intent to distribute a “Schedule 1 Drug”. After a judge found probable cause for Taita Juan’s conviction on Friday, October 22, he was held in Joe Corley Federal Detention Facility in Conroe, Texas until October 28th, when he was transferred to the Houston Federal Detention Center where he is currently detained. Based on the charges, Taita Juan is facing up to 20 years in federal prison. On October 24th, a private attorney was hired to represent Taita Juan’s case in order to ensure that his fundamental rights are protected and that he is able to return home as soon as possible. We urge you to help us at this critical juncture by donating whatever you can for his bail, or otherwise intervening on his behalf.
www.freetaitajuan.org Statement from Cecilia Zarate-Laun, National Program Director of the Colombia Support Network A leader of the Camentsa community in Alto Putumayo graciously received our delegation at his home last January, to explain about traditional medicine. He was recently detained at the airport in Houston on his way to Oregon, because he had ayahuasca (or yagé) in his luggage. It needs to be clarified to the judge that this is allowed because he is a respected healer from the Amazon region of Colombia.