Candoshi - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Each nuclear family is an independent social unit in which the father is the authority. In the past women were kept in total subjection by the threat of death; only the very old women had social status. In most families today, women are treated with more respect.

Political Organization. The Candoshi are an egalitarian society. The independence of each adult male is highly respected. Group decisions are made by consensus, but those who disagree are not pressured to conform. In the early 1970s the Peruvian government told all the indigenous groups to elect chiefs from among their own people. The Candoshi usually elect one of the older men. The main duty of the chief is to keep peace within the community and between communities.

Social Control. The penalty for killing a man, within the community, is still death. Traditionally, couples caught in adultery were killed by the woman's husband and those caught in premarital sexual relations were killed by the girl's father. This has changed only in individual cases. A man who habitually causes conflict within his community can be forced to move his family away.

Conflict. Traditional conflicts between villages usually erupted in war raids. Shamans, suspected of causing death, were common targets of killings. Most extended communities had some degree of internal conflict, often evident in drunken brawls, and all communities were overtly at war with various Ashuar and Huambisa communities. Individual enmities and threats of killing are still common, but fear of the old cycle of war is a strong deterrent.

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