I registered just to respond to this topic. It really infuriated me.
As a traveler who just finished 2 years in Latin America, including almost 6 months in Bolivia/Peru and 10 months in Colombia, I must say I am just amazed by the misguided ideas found in the "What really happened in Ocongate?" blog post (http://chichalimona.blogspot.co.il/2013/01/what-really-happened-in-ocongate.html
In 24 months in South and Central America, I met a great amount of people, connected deeply to many of them and was in no form or shape harmed or threatened, except for one event of being robbed in Pasto, Colombia - which I admit was brought on by my being "dando papaya", as the Colombians say: talking on a "flashy" (not really) cellphone into a dark alley, alone, so I could hear the phone call over of the sounds of the festival there. Even then, I know the crime is NOT related to the race or culture of the people, or any aggression or misunderstanding - it was just about 7 teen-aged boys robbing a guy with more money. Back to what was said in the article.
While it is true that the "other side" (the Villagers and "el Presidente") did not have the equal opportunity nor capability to respond to the story publicized (and have not, until now - a month and a half later - responded) and to show "their side", there are some things which are indisputable:
1. The Americans were 3, the villagers were at least 5 to 15 times more.
2. The Americans were gravely hurt physically, and decided to abandon their "dream voyage" because of this. So there is no obvious gain for them in faking their wounds and attack just to get 20,000$, considering they probably gain 4 to 6 times more per year, working in the states.
3. The Americans, as well as thousands if not tens of thousands of other people, have camped in various locations all over Latin America for months and years - and no such brutal attacks have been recorded, as far as I know.
So, let's touch the points made:
1. "What would you do if a truck rolled up into your backyard with three foreigners in it who did not speak your language fluently asking if they could camp there? Would you want to know who these people were? Would you want proof of who they were before you let them stay overnight on your property where you have all of your family, possessions, and livelihood? Would you be suspicious and perhaps even scared if they refused to tell you or show you who they were? Would you then perhaps do everything you could to get those people off of your property?"
- In this lovely example, "YOU" are one, while the foreigners are 3. In the story we are discussing, the "YOU" was an entire VILLAGE, tens or hundreds of people, while the foreigners were 3, 2 of which are WOMEN, and they were all *obviously* UNARMED. Do you see the difference?
2. "Although Jennifer's report seems to emphasize that the group clearly communicated their intentions, we cannot really know what messages were being transmitted across language boundaries." - This is so unbelievable silly. Would the author attack a tourist who does not know her language? Unless the tourist shows aggression, would you attack him if you cannot understand him? Even if he does, when he stops showing aggression - would you continue attacking him? Would you hound him, chase him, destroy his car, whip him, take photos of him, kidnap him? I understand the author thinks the entire American version might be a lie. I guess the question is - what does she accept as "true"?
3. "Cattle rustling" - REALLY? And how would they steal cattle, with their caravan? Did they even mention cattle in their story? Are there any known stories of tourists stealing cattle in Latin America? This is so far fetched, I just don't know what to say.
4. "The history of white men rolling up in the Andes .. Suspicion, distrust, and even fear of outsiders are just some of the consequences of this long history. " - Okay, let's say this is true, and that this is the cause of the villagers' actions, whatever they might be. If they attack tourists based on these prejudices, regardless of who the tourists are - they are exactly what the author says they are not: primitive, violent and emotionally driven. If the tourists were the aggressors, what could the Americans have done to deserve the head wounds the women received? The broken and missing teeth the guys suffered? The lashings? What could they have done that would have made the sacking of their truck acceptable? Nothing.
This is without a doubt a case of pure and utter stupidity and violence by a LOCAL VILLAGE GANG, and the fact they have someone called "El Presidente" leading their village (or at least the mob) - and not an ALCALDE, GOBERNADOR or whatever official title - shows it. The Americans had EXTENSIVE medical check ups after their attack, and all of the facts they claimed about the physical attack could be EASILY verified. There is no sense what so ever in thinking they lied about the details of *physical attack*.
I do not think this has anything to do with the average Indigena or Peruano, and I met nothing but amazing people in my months there. I do think this has something to do with a local gang, and I am extremely happy the United States (which is NOT my country) has publicized a Travel Alert for the Cuzco region. This will hopefully cause the government and police of Peru will have to step up and handle the case and discover the truth, as well as the guilty party in this story - and bring it to justice. Also, hopefully they will increase the funding of the Tourist Police and take other measures to prevent future attacks on tourists, including EDUCATION.
I also believe the local tourism will suffer because of this, which will just might cause local members of the tourist industry to have their own justice against this local gang. I do hope so.
I am sorry about any errors in grammar or word usage, talking almost exclusively Spanish for a year and a half fucked up my English a bit.