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Putumayo (pōtōmäˈyō) [key] or Içá ēsäˈ, river, c.1,000 mi (1,600 km) long, rising in the Andes, S Colombia, and flowing SE to the Amazon in NW Brazil. Mostly navigable, it marks part of Colombia's boundary with Ecuador and most of Colombia's frontier with Peru. The river valley, once a major source of rubber, has declined somewhat in economic importance, but rubber and balatá are shipped to Manaus, Brazil. In the early 20th cent., during the peak of the wild-rubber bonanza, Roger Casement, a British consul, was appointed to head a group to investigate the treatment of Native American laborers in the region and made a report for the Peruvian government on the brutal exploitation of native labor; the report shocked the world.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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