4 Keys to Understanding how the Mucutuy Children of the Amazon Survived

Forty days in the jungle for children under 13 seems like a miracle. These were the keys to understanding how the 4 Mucutuy children survived in the Amazon.

Soldiers in the operation to rescue children in the jungles of Guaviare, Colombia

Photo: TW-FAC

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: 4 claves para entender cómo sobrevivieron los niños Mucutuy del Amazonas 

The international community recognized the survival of the 4 Colombian minors after 40 days in the Amazon jungle. The word "miracle" is repeated in the Colombian and international press. However, for Leslie, Tien Noriel, Soleiny, and Cristin Neriman Mucutuy to survive, there were several keys from prior knowledge to the strategies of the rescue team.

Knowledge of the Terrain

The Mucutuy family is of Muinane origin from the Huitotos and lived in the jungle areas of the great Colombian Amazon. Leslie, the eldest of the siblings, took a leadership role. It is known that her decisions and actions were the main reason why she and her siblings survived after 40 days. The teenager knew the climate, the vegetation, and the possibility of feeding on the right plants or fruits.

Her maternal grandfather told the local press that Leslie usually ran away from home for reasons of rebellion, so she needed survival skills. These sporadic outings helped the eldest of the four siblings to have the necessary temperance to cope with this situation.

The children's aunt, Damaris Mucutuy, also told the local press that she played with Lesly to build shelters and eat local fruits. She also pointed out that the eldest of the siblings knew how to care for the little ones, which was fundamental for all 4 to survive.

Airplane Supplies

As the days passed, they learned that their first source of food was what they found in the wreckage. The children told their grandfather Fidencio Valencia that their first resource was fariña, a cassava-based flour rich in nutrients.

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His ability to search inside the aircraft's luggage was vital to his survival during the first few days when the rescue team was unable to reach the area.

Survival Bags Dumped

Another item that proved vital to the survival of four children was the survival kits dropped from the sky. As the search continued, rescue teams dropped several bags of survival items from helicopters. These ranged from food and saline solution to tarpaulins and scissors. Although it is not known if the Mucutuy children ate from the bags, it was determined that they found them and took the items they needed to build shelters.

Cooperation Between Armed Forces and Indigenous Groups

General Pedro Sanchez, commander of the Special Forces (CCOES), made it clear that since it was known that the minors were rescued alive: cooperation between the indigenous community and the military was necessary. Sanchez said that the indigenous volunteers knew the terrain better and could give crucial recommendations when undertaking the search, so much so that it was precisely a search group between indigenous people and soldiers that found the children.

The presence of the civilian population could have been vital at the time of the first contact. It was learned that the children feared reprisals from their relatives because they were "in hiding." It was even known that when the search groups passed close by on several occasions, the Mucutuy preferred to remain silent because they were afraid. Characters with rifles and uniforms can also create suspicion among the children. This is why the participation of these groups must have been vital.

Although the causes of their survival in the jungle are better understood, more information is still needed. The fact that four children between 1 and 13 years of age survived a plane crash and 40 days in one of the most inhospitable, dense, and dangerous jungles in the world remains a mystery. Perhaps that is why, for now, the press and people continue to call this case "a miracle."

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