Profile: Bernardo Cauper (Jefe)

Jefe, pronounced hef-A, meaning boss or leader in spanish, Bernardo is sometimes called by this name when other community members need guidance or help. He is very active. Making announcments, “hola, hola, hola” he soundchecks before each declaration over the communities loudspeaker.

He frequents Pucallpa, picking up visitors, arranging repairs on the community lancha boats, or meeting with deligates from a women´s artisan guild. He is both modern and old fashioned, with his traditional shipibo designed polo paired with a clean blue pair of dungarees. Clean shaven, he is actually one of the only men in the twon who seem to grow facial hair. His short and somewhat spikey black hair is thin and unoriginal in town. At 35 he is young to have 5 children already, although far behind his father in law who had 9 by the same point in his life.

Equiped with his cellphone, various solar devices and a camorder, he is one of the most technologically savy Shipibo leaders around. Our arrival gift of a pair of binoculars and a rubics cube didn´t propell him any farther in the technological realm, but did seems to be a hit around town.

I believe he enjoys his fatherly duties as he and 2 of his sons go out fishing on occasion. The two kids run along behind Bernardo, excitedly holding fishing nets and gear. He spends a little time at night going over the spanish alphabet and numbers with his two youngest children as well. It seems he has quite the plans for dinamarca, including the questionable addition of a Plaza de Armas and bringing in tourists to a market. Usually smiling and willing to help, Bernardo has proven to be an intriguing friend to have made, from his forlorn sighs of discontent with crazy little Max or the midnight candle lit meetings with town officials in the street.

How he is holding up as a Jefe is perhaps questionable, given his plans, and communities members seem to be displeased with his prolonged absense in pucallpa this week. We shall she how it turns out.


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