Friday, May 11, 2007

Bruce Olsen

"I looked into the faces of my executioners and saw that many of them had tears in their eyes."

In 1961, Bruce Olson, a brilliant 19-year-old linguistics student, tells his parents he wants to be a Christian missionary. In disgust, his dad buys him a one-way ticket to Caracas. Without sponsors, he walks alone into the jungle looking for the Motilone natives. A Motilone arrow pierces his thigh, and he is taken back to the village where his fate will be decided. He is eventually accepted into the tribe and begins to evangelize without disrupting the culture. In 1988, Olson is captured and condemned to die by guerrillas.

Investigating the story, journalist Maria Caballero ventures into the jungles to interview indigenous leaders, who testify to Olson's 30-year history of service to them and in some cases volunteer to die in his place. The president of Colombia says, “This is the first white man to be defended by the indigenous communities in our country, in Latin America.”