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INTO THE URBAN JUNGLE

After millennia living off the land in what is now Venezuela, the Warao seek survival in a teeming Amazon city
Warao refugees in Manaus on their way to temporary homes on July 14. About 500 have arrived in the city since December.

Manaus

Riding in a van behind a moving truck, Rogelio Quiñonez, 20, is between homes for the fourth time in as many months. He’s 5 feet tall, and his high-cropped bangs, protruding forehead, and slight smile give him an impish look. With him are his wife and toddler and infant sons: four of the roughly 500 indigenous Warao people of Venezuela seeking refuge in the Brazilian city of Manaus.

On this afternoon in July, the local government is relocating dozens of the Warao to temporary accommodations in an apartment building in a neighborhood called, aptly, Cidade Nova—“New City” in Portuguese. As they drive, a downpour sends water sluicing toward the Manaus waterfront, where the Rio Negro becomes the Amazon. “The sun can’t shine the entire day,” Quiñonez says in halting Spanish, his second language. “It has to rain for the plants and animals and people to not be too hot.”

The Warao pull up to their latest home, and the van’s door slides open. The first person out is nearly mowed down by a teen zipping past on a motorcycle. But soon enough all of the refugees are scrambling about the two-story building, testing faucets in the apartments and arguing over dibs in the Warao language—an “isolate” that has no connection to any other on Earth. Their new Brazilian neighbors gawk from behind their gates. “Is it true they make bonfires and shoot arrows?” asks Analise Lima, 38. “Do they speak Portuguese, even a little?”

Quiñonez settles his family into a two-room apartment and plugs in an old

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