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Peru declares ayahuasca part of cultural heritage

The Government of Peru declared the traditional knowledge and the use of Ayahuasca practiced by the indigenous communities of the Amazon forest to be national cultural patrimony. Ayahuasca is more commonly known in Brazil as Santo Daime. The decision of the peruvian Government, signed by the Director of the National Institute of Culture, Javier Ugaz Villacorta, was published on the Saturday edition of the country’s official daily newspaper, El Peruano.
On the declaration of recognition, the Peruvian Government says that Ayahuasca has psychotropic qualities, acting on the psychic level, the mental activity, the behaviour, the perception, and is known all over the world as an indigenous plant that transmits spiritual knowledge.

It also says that the effects produced by its consumption are equivalent to the entrance to the secrets of the spiritual world. According to the National Institute of Culture, the Ayahuasca ritual is establishing itself as the center of the traditional medicine and is one of the pillars of the identity of the Amazon people, its use being necessary and indispensable to all the members of the Peruvian Amazon society.
Ayahauasca is a drink obtained from the decoction of the jungle vine also known as Ayahuasca (Banisteriopsis caapi) and the shrub Chacruna (Psychotria viridis). According to the Peruvian Government, Ayahuasca has an extraordinary cultural history due to its psychotropic qualities.
Therapeutical virtues

The National Institute of Culture notes that the use and the effects of the Ayahuasca are necessary to all the members of the Amazon societies at some point in their lives, and indispensable for them to assume the part of privileged carriers, be it through communication with the spiritual world, or for plastic expression.

Peru’s Government states that the effects produced by Ayahuasca have been extensively investigated due to their complexity and are different from the ones usually produced by hallucinogens.

"Part of that difference consists on the ritual of consumption, that leads to several effects, however always within a culturally limited margin, and with religious, therapeutical and cultural purposes" says Javier Villacorta.

According to the Peruvian Government, "the practice of Ayahuasca ritual sessions and their ancestral use in the traditional rituals, guaranteeing cultural continuity, is tied to the therapeutical virtues."

"There is a need for protection of the traditional use and the sacred aspect of the Ayahuasca ritual, differentiating it from the Occidental use, which is out of context, consumerist and with commercial purposes" allerts the statement of the National Institute of Culture.

Recognition in Brazil

The Government is also analyzing, with the help of the Institute of Historical Patrimony and National Art (Iphan), a process for the recognition of the Ayahuasca use in religious rituals as incorporeal patrimony of the Brazilian culture.

At the end of April, in the Center of Christian Illumination Luz Universal - Alto Santo, funded by the master Raimundo Irineu Serra, in Rio Branco (AC), the Minister of Culture, Gilberto Gil, received a document with a request from the representatives of the centers which funded the three main branches of Ayahuasca doctrines.

The request deserved the endorsement of Governor Binho Marques, from the state of Acre (PT), of Deputy Edvaldo Magalhães (PC do B), President of the Legislative Assembly, and the Federal Deputy Perpétua Almeida (PC do B), Chairman of the project for recognition of the ritual use of Ayahuasca.

According to the Governor, “it’s very easy to build buildings, but it’s difficult to build such a cultural fortress as this one”.

"This is our moral reserve, our fountain of knowledge. I myself, in times of doubt, when I saw no hope for the future, found here the knowledge and illumination and a lot of hope for the future. Turning this culture, wisdom and illumination into Perennial philosophy is important to the state of the Acre. The Acre is thankful. But I’m sure Brazil will be thankful too, not just the Acre" said Binho Marques.

On the 21st the program SBT Realidade will introduce to the country the three main funding branches of the Ayahuasca doctrines (Alto Santo, Barquinha and União do Vegetal), which asked Iphan to recognize the use of Ayahuasca in religious rituals as incorporeal patrimony of the Brazilian culture.