The way it starterd: Representatives of the Cofán people issue a statement about Ayahuasca International

This is the letter that started it all: Ayahuasca International (AI) spent years showing two letters of permission signed by Cofán indigenou...

This is the letter that started it all: Ayahuasca International (AI) spent years showing two letters of permission signed by Cofán indigenous authorities.  AI claimed the letters gave them permission to work work with ayahuasca.  Recently the same indigenous authorities wrote a new letter (below) claiming those two letters were forgeries and denying Varela and his organization Ayahuasca International, had not received Cofán permission to work with ayahuasca.

The scandal made it to radio, TV, and Colombiás main newspapers and blogs, and concluded with a follow up letter of support signed by a 100 of the top ayahuasca academics and researchers.

As usual Alberto Varela reacted by deflecting attention.  He claimed the indgineous shamans were trying to blackmail him, he claimed the indians wanted to keep ayahuasca for themselves.  But this is not the question. What Varela needs to explain is whether or not the indigenous authorization to serve ayahuasca has any value to him and to Ayahuasca International.

If is is legitimate. What are they going to do now they they no longer have that permission?

And if for AI the indigenous authorization has no value, why did they spend 7 years showing everybody their permission letters as a source of legitimacy for their work?

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Representatives of the Cofán people have just published a statement about Alberto Varela and his organization: “Ayahuasca International.

For a number of years Varela had claimed to be the recipient of an authorization by the highest traditional authority of the Cofán people: Taita Querubín Queta Alvarado.

The 4 page long text exposes how the private organization Ayahuasca International has illegitimately used the name of the Cofán taitas (shamans) from Colombia in order to gain credibility for their ayahuasca business activities, as shown in the following excerpt:

“Mister Alberto José Varela has NEVER been given any instructions or training in the knowledge of the Sacred Medicine of Yage, neither has he EVER been authorised to carry it or use it in his international tours. This makes what is said in his alleged “authorisation” ABSOLUTELY FALSE.”
Click here and download the original file in Spanish
Click here to download the translation to english done by a certified legal translator


Translation of the letter:

cabecera cofan

The undersigned governor of the indigenous reservation Ukumari Kankhe, in use of his legal faculties given and protected by the article 7 of the Colombian Political Constitution.


Public communication about Mr Alberto José Varela, the organization “Ayahuasca International” of which he is president and the alleged “authorization” he claims to have received from the highest traditional authority of the Cofán people Querubín Queta Alvarado and the Cofán Indigenous Reservation Ukumari Kankhe.
  1. Mr Alberto José Varela, Argentinian national with passport No 13925297, has founded a lucrative enterprise with which he carries out international tours around European cities, offering the Yagé cure in a devious way claiming a supposed authorisation or endorsement by the yagé indigenous authorities in Colombia. He also takes foreigners on excursions to the city of Mocoa in Putumayo.
  2. The organization called AYAHUASCA INTERNATIONAL, legally known as Inner Mastery International S.L., organizes gatherings to offer the yagé cure, charging plenty to it’s participants and thus establishing a lucrative business which contradicts and breaks the principles and values of the Cofán people endangering their traditions and uses of the Ancestral Medicine of Yagé as well as the lives and health of those who attend such events.
  3. In order to portray his enterprise as legitimate, Mr Alberto José Varela publicly shows a supposed authorization granted by the Mayor Taita Querubín Queta Alvarado and the Cofán Indigenous Reservation Ukumari Kankhe in which he is authorised to carry and use the traditional medicine Yagé during his tours with the above mentioned organization. This document also allegedly certifies the “Instruction and training” he supposedly received in the use of our Ancestral Medicine.
  4. Mr Alberto José Varela publicly claims to invest financially in benefit of the Cofán community in order to preserve the culture and tradition. Therefore the Cofán community declares the absolute falsehood of the supposed contributions mentioned by Mr Varela.
  5. Given this concerning situation we, as indigenous authorities of the Cofán people (A’l), publicly express ourselves in order to defend our Ancestral Tradition, the responsible use of our Traditional Medicine, the authority of our Taitas and Elders and the safekeeping of our people. Also we wish to protect the lives and health of those people who put themselves at serious risk when being induced by people who lack the recognition of our traditional authorities and instruction in the ways of our traditional medicine, resorting to fraudulent and dishonest acts like those of Mr Alberto José Varela. This person deserves to be investigated by the local authorities in each country where he misrepresents and replaces our authority and the good name of the indigenous ancestral medicine for his own benefit and his lucrative business instead of serving the common good like we have done for millennia. He is thus acting in prejudice of our immaterial patrimony and so going against international treatises which protect the indigenous and tribal people, their customs and traditions as well as trespassing the international recognition we have as guardians of Yagé, understanding it as nucleus and bastion of our indigenous traditional medicine.Invoking the law of Origin and Own Right of the Cofán (A’l) People, the Life Plan and Safeguarding Plan of the Cofán (A’l) People, protected by the Law 21 from 1991 (Agreement 169 of the OIT) and the Decree 004 of the Constitutional Court from January 2009, as well as the wisdom of the Taitas and Elders that guides our people we declare that:
  1. In the tradition and customs of the Cofán (A’l) People, NONE of the people who are part of AYAHUSACA INTERNATIONAL HAVE BEEN TAUGHT, TRAINED OR INSTRUCTED BY US in the uses and practices of the Yagé cure. Given the fact that this is a science of much responsibility and care we keep the teaching within our community and directed only by our Traditional Authorities.Mr Alberto José Varela was never given any training in the knowledge and use of this Sacred Medicine and was NEVER authorized to carry it or use it in his international tours. What is said in the supposed authorization is ABSOLUTELY FALSE.
  2. The people who arrive to the Cofián community from outside to take the Yagé cure are given the remedy in order to cure various illnesses but they are NEVER instructed on how to give the Remedy under any circumstances, and we never teach to do so in the conditions and with the format of the EUROPEAN AYAHUASCA SCHOOL founded by ALBERTO JOSE VARELA which he promotes through AYAHUASCA INTERNATIONAL.
  3. The COFAN INDIGENOUS RESERVATION UKUMARI KANKHE absolutely doesn’t know Mr Alberto José Varela or the members and facilitators of the organization AYAHUASCA INTERNATIONAL because they have NEVER been within our territory and they have NEVER received any instruction from our community or the Taita Mayor Querubín Queta Alvarado.
  4. The signature that Mr Alberto José Albarado managed to get can be dismissed as absolutely false as he obtained it using fraudulent procedures and TAITA MAYOR QUERUBIN QUETA ALAVARADO affirms he never issued any authorisation for the above mentioned individual or his organization to administer the Yagé Remedy in their international tours, and even less so to provide home delivery of doses through AYAHUASCA PLANET.
  5. Our Elders and Taitas DO NOT authorise anyone outside the Cofán community to offer or carry the Yagé remedy.
  6. Yagé ceremonies are absolutely sacred for our people and we perform them with a very demanding level of responsibility because our interest is to take care for the complete health and the life of our patients. This is why we declare that the organization AYAHUASCA INTERNATIONAL and its founder ALBERTO JOSE VARELA are absolute impostors and do not know the science of Yagé or have been instructed in our customs and practices from the Cofán Tradition.
  7. To the people who attend their meetings as patients and other people who may wish to take part in the Yagé ceremonies we urgently advise that the Yageé Remedy and the Ancestral Tradition are exclusive of indigenous people, guardians of those traditions. Therefore resorting to organizations outside the indigenous people is an irresponsibility and puts the lives and health of those assisting at risk.
  8. Mr Alberto José Varela and his company Inner Matery S.L. Have never made any kind of investment or donation toward the Cofán community. Quite the opposite, they attack our tradition and culture by promoting a use of this Sacred Remedy that is improper, disrespectful and irresponsible.
  9. Therefore we encourage the national and international communities to ignore and disbelieve anything published in websites and social networks of AYAHUASCA INTERNATIONAL or by ALBERTO JOSE VARELA, for they are impostors who do not know and haven’t been instructed in the traditional practices of the Yagé Remedy. Whoever attends the meetings of the mentioned organization does so at their own risk and they are at serious risk.
  10. The Cofán (A’l) people, Highest Taita Querubín Queta Alvarado, the Indigenous Reservation Cofán Ukumari Kankhe and it’s Governor José Lorenzo Morales, DECREE the absolute FALSEHOOD, of the supposed “authorisation” obtained by Mr Alberto José Varela.
  11. Neither the Cofán (A’l) people nor our Taitas will be responsible for any illness, damage or decease of any person as result of the bad practice of these irresponsible people.
  12. This reservation will initiate the procedures, legal, penal and of responsibility against this man who has usurped the name of our Taita Querubin Queta Alvarado and we request the governments of the world to NOT authorise these practices from this company and by Mr Alberto José Varela as well as their supposed facilitators.
Let this be published and spread.
Yours Sincerely,
Signed by:
Querubín Queta – Traditional Authority
David Queta – Traditional Authority
Lorenzo Morales – Governor

Any queries please please phone (57) 3122620569


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