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Covid-19 death toll among indigenous peoples reaches 1,000

Organizations are denouncing underreporting by public institutions

Credit: Alex Pazuello | Manaus City Hall

19 Mar 21

Covid-19 death toll among indigenous peoples reaches 1,000

Almost a year after the first case of Covid-19 among the indigenous population in Brazil was detected, more than a thousand indigenous people have died as a result of the coronavirus in the country, according to the initiative Indigenous Emergency, created by the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil Network (Apib). Besides the lack of transparency of data from the Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health (SESAI), which prevents the identification of many cities where the deaths occurred, Apib points out that the agency is one of the main vectors of the advance of the disease in indigenous territories, through the professionals who attend the regions.

Since the beginning of the health crisis, the entity has denounced the absence of a concrete plan of protection against Covid-19 for the indigenous population, as a facet of the “politics of hate” of Bolsonaro’s administration. In July last year, Apib achieved, via the Supreme Court (STF), the mandatory adoption of protection measures for indigenous peoples by the federal government, but the decision continues to be ignored.

“The Federal Government is the main agent that transmits the virus among indigenous peoples. The omission in the construction of effective actions to confront the pandemic, the negligence in the protection of workers and users of the Indigenous Health Subsystem and the construction of policies that favor the invasion of indigenous territories are the main factors in this context of violations,” says the website of the initiative that, in December 2020, launched the report “Our fight is for life”, which deta

Acre faces rise in COVID-19 infections worsened by historical floods

Excess of rainfall flooded local rivers

Credit: SECOM

22 Feb 21

Acre faces rise in COVID-19 infections worsened by historical floods

With crowded ICUs and facing the increase of Covid-19 cases in the Amazon region, the state of Acre is experiencing a humanitarian crisis intensified by the floods caused by excessive rainfall in the state’s basin region in recent days. The state has thousands of people displaced by the overflowing of at least five rivers and suffers to cope with the increase of Covid-19 cases, the fight against dengue fever and a migration crisis, with Venezuelans seeking refuge.

“This is an example of how non-climatic situations are worsened by extreme weather events,” said researcher José Marengo to the Climate Observatory.

Covid-19: Amazon states health crisis deepens with new virus strain

Brazil’s northern region has close to one million people infected by Covid since the begining of the pandemic

Credit: Juliana Pesqueira/Amazônia Real

28 Jan 21

Covid-19: Amazon states health crisis deepens with new virus strain

Amid the significant increase of Covid-19 cases in Amazonas state, attributed in part to the new strain of the coronavirus, other states in the northern region are on alert. According to the newspaper Metrópole, the states of Rondônia, Tocantins and Roraima also no longer have available ICU beds for patients infected with the virus, while Acre, Pará and Amapá register a worrisome occupation rate, above 70%. Together, the region’s states accounted for 998,590 infected people and 21,373 dead from the disease until January 27.

Manaus is still the most affected city, after the outbreak of the lack of oxygen crisis in the city, on the 14th. Until January 26, health authorities transferred 302 patients from Manaus to other states. According to the Minister of Health, General Eduardo Pazuello, they expect the number to reach 1,500.

Former Environment Ministers ask european countries aid to mitigate health collapse on the Amazon

Former ministers demand protection of “forest guardians”

Credit: Marcio James/Amazônia Real

27 Jan 21

Former Environment Ministers ask european countries aid to mitigate health collapse on the Amazon

Nine former Environment Ministers sent, on 26th, a letter to the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and to the prime ministers of Germany, Angela Merkel, and Norway, Erna Solber, asking for “solidarity and collaboration” for the “solution of the Amazonian problems”. Signed by Izabella Teixeira, Marina Silva, Carlos Minc, Edson Duarte, José Sarney Filho, José Goldemberg, Rubens Ricupero, Gustavo Krause and José Carlos Carvalho, the document addresses the high rates of deforestation and burning registered in the Amazon in 2020 – which aggravated the respiratory problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic – in addition to mentioning the imminent collapse of the region’s health system, which had its peak with the lack of oxygen in hospitals in Manaus, capital of Amazonas.

By presenting the Amazon as “especially vulnerable to the pandemic due to isolation, poverty, precarious health structure, and difficult access”, the former ministers appealed for help to the local population through the donation of oxygen cylinders, stretchers, oximeters, medical oxygen production plants, among other equipment. “Knowing closely the reality of the Amazon, the signatories of this letter, former ministers of the environment of Brazil, know from experience that neither the federal government nor the local governments have all the indispensable means to help the most fragile and vulnerable populations of the region”, says the text.

Recently, the French president threatened to suspend the import of Brazilian soy. Germany and Norway, major donors to the Amazon Fund, announced that they will only resume investments if Brazil shows effective efforts to fight deforestation in the region.

The request for help from former ministers to European leaders happened on the eve of Hamilton Mourão’s declaration at the World Economic Forum, in which he criticized the low “international financial and technical cooperation” for the protection of the Amazon, according to a story by Jamil Chad for UOL. At the meeting, Mourão announced that Brazil has resumed negotiations with Germany and Norway to send resources to the country.

Manaus Mayor blames environmentalists, who opposed the construction of a road, for lack of oxygen in the hospitals

Activists say that the BR-319 threatens the Amazon forest

Credit: DNIT/via O eco

18 Jan 21

Manaus Mayor blames environmentalists, who opposed the construction of a road, for lack of oxygen in the hospitals

In an attempt to justify the oxygen supply crisis in Manaus hospitals by the difficulty of access to the city, Mayor David Almeida resumed his push for the reconstruction of the BR 319 highway and blamed environmentalists opposed to its construction for the collapse in the public health system. “There are people who devastated their countries and come here to lobby against our road, BR-319, which connects Porto Velho, capital of Roraima state, to Manaus. This causes our isolation. This isolation in part contributes to this Covid tragedy,” he told the newspaper O Estado de São Paulo.

In the current emergency scenario, the outlet Amazônia Real emphasized that the road would not be an efficient alternative for oxygen supply. The article also pointed out that the proponents of the work are reluctant to do environmental studies and to meet the demands of Ibama, an environmental control agency.

For experts, the highway represents a threat to the protection of the Amazon and a risk to the survival of several indigenous communities that live around it, by opening areas of forest to the entry of land-grabbers, loggers and other environmental criminals. The BR-319 highway is one of the main promises of the Jair Bolsonaro administration for the Amazon, planned for 2022.

Manaus can’t breath: Amazonas state capital residents die of Covid-19 in crowded hospitals without oxygen

Health professionals say that “patients are being murdered” by government neglect

Credit: Amazônia Real/Reproduction

17 Jan 21

Manaus can’t breath: Amazonas state capital residents die of Covid-19 in crowded hospitals without oxygen

Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state, in the Amazon region, was one of the first cities in Brazil to see its health system collapse with the pandemic. Months after that episode, the city is going through the same predictable tragedy, with an outburst of Covid-19 cases and the lack of oxygen canisters in its crowded hospitals since January 14th. Patients are dying asphyxiated, as reported by health professionals, and over 200 people were transferred to other states.

A story by the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo showed that general Eduardo Pazuello, minister of Health, was warned about the oxygen shortage in Manaus by members of the state government, by the company that produces oxygen and even by his sister-in-law who had a family member “without oxygen to live through the day”. Even with four days of notice, he said “he couldn’t do anything”. A few days before the collapse, the minister sent a task-force of doctors to promote “precocious treatment” with chloroquine and other unproven medicines.

The appearance of a new strain of the virus is one of the culprits, experts say, but this chaotic scenario is preceded by neglect by the federal administration. Jesem Orellana, a researcher at Fiocruz-Amazônia, said in an interview to the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo that the rejection, by government officials, to do a lockdown, suggested by experts since September, is to blame. The governor, Wilson Lima, supported by president Jair Bolsonaro, fought against more restrictive measures. Orellana also blamed “bad science” after a study said that Manaus had achieved “herd immunity”. “This was debated at restaurant tables and between politicians. Now we know better. The population relaxed and now we know how it ended”.

The Manaus situation shocked the country and the civil society mobilized efforts to aid the hospitals and send oxygen to the state. The president, however, sustained his position and said “he did what he could”, while reinforcing his promotion of ineffective and unproven medicines against Covid-19.

IACHR says that Bolsonaro’s actions to curb Covid-19 spread among indigenous peoples was insufficient

OAS body recommends measures to protect the integrity of life in indigenous communities

Credit: Sesai/via CC BY-SA 2.0

14 Jan 21

IACHR says that Bolsonaro’s actions to curb Covid-19 spread among indigenous peoples was insufficient

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), an organ of the Organization of American States (OAS), has decided favourably to a Guajajara and Awá peoples of the Araribóia Indigenous Territory denouncement against Bolsonaro government. The decision pointed to the negligence by the government in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and recommended precautionary measures. Failures in health care and the presence of invaders in their territory were some points presented by the indigenous people in December last year.

As already denounced by other communities, the complaint mentions the Special Indigenous Health District (DESEI) in Maranhão State as the epicenter of positive cases of the disease among the indigenous of the region, at the beginning of July last year. Based on the analysis of the data presented – such as the fact that 8% of the population of TI Araribóia had been diagnosed with Covid-19 by August 2020 – and the lack of information from the Brazilian state on the implementation and effectiveness of plans to combat the disease among the indigenous population, the commission understood that “there were no elements indicating that the actions of the state have been sufficient and effective in protecting the indigenous peoples who live in the Indigenous Land Araribóia”.

Faced with this finding, the IACHR asked Brazil to adopt measures to protect the rights “to health, life, and personal integrity” of the Guajajara and Awá of Araribóia, which includes adequate medical assistance and preventive actions against the spread of the disease.

Bolsonaro administration exposed for neglecting indigenous peoples rights during Covid-19 pandemic

Indigenous organizations calls out “hateful policies”

Credit: Valentina Ricardo/Greenpeace

10 Dec 20

Bolsonaro administration exposed for neglecting indigenous peoples rights during Covid-19 pandemic

The Indigenous Peoples of Brazil Network (Apib) has once again denounced the government’s neglect in the fight against Covid-19 with the report “Our struggle is for life,” which details the impact of the pandemic among the indigenous population. Five months after the organization achieved, through the Federal Supreme Court (STF), the mandatory adoption of measures to protect indigenous peoples by the federal government, the decision continues to be ignored by the Bolsonaro administration, points out the report.

As a way of measuring the real impact of the disease on the community, the Apib, in collaboration with other indigenous organizations, has accounted autonomously, in addition to the official data presented by the government, the advance of the pandemic among the indigenous population. By December, there had been 800 deaths, 42019 confirmed cases, and 161 people affected, more than half of the peoples that are living in Brazil. “Much more than numbers, it was our shamans, our midwives, elders and chiefs who left. We lost our elders who kept the memories of our ancestry, guardians of knowledge, of songs, of prayers, of our spirituality. Leaders who dedicated their lives to the struggle to defend the territory, the integrity and the physical and cultural existence of their people”, says the report.

Bolsonaro’s administration has authorized 910 new agrochemicals since taking office

The number represents 30% of the agrochemicals sold in Brazil

Credit: Vinícius Mendonça/Ibama/via CC BY-SA 2.0

30 Nov 20

Bolsonaro’s administration has authorized 910 new agrochemicals since taking office

In less than two years, Bolsonaro’s administration has approved the trade and use  of 910 new agrochemicals in Brazil. The information comes from Robotox, a project by Agência Pública and Reporter Brasil, that monitors the authorization for use and commercialization of new agrochemicals via Twitter.

The 910 new agrochemicals represent 30% of the number of products sold and used in Brazil – 2976, according to the project.

Covid-19: virus advances among Yanomami and threatens isolated indigenous groups

Gold diggers are the main vector of transmission

Credit: Chico Batata /Greenpeace

16 Nov 20

Covid-19: virus advances among Yanomami and threatens isolated indigenous groups

In June, the Instituto Socioambiental [Socio-Environmental Institute – ISA] published a study that warned about the high risk of contagion of the Yanomami population because of the invasion of illegal gold diggers in the Yanomami Indigenous Territory (TIY), between the states of Roraima and Amazonas. Five months later, the health condition of the region reveals an announced tragedy, points out the report “Xawara: traces of Covid-19 in the Yanomami Indigenous Territory and the omission of the State”. According to the new survey, prepared by the Pro-Yanomami and Ye’kwana Network and the TIY Leadership Forum, more than a third of the region’s indigenous people have already been exposed to the virus, with an increase of more than 250% in confirmed cases in the last three months – from 335 to 1,202 between August and October 2020. According to the study, contamination has already reached 23 of the 37 indigenous land regions, including isolated groups most vulnerable to the disease. The monitoring platform “Isolated Indigenous Peoples Covid-19 Alert”, of the Observatory of Human Rights of Isolated Indigenous Peoples and Recent Contact (Opi), also points to the high vulnerability of indigenous peoples isolated in TIY – in the Serra da Estrutura region – based on an analysis that crosses factors such as the number of confirmed cases, of deaths and the existence or not of a contingency plan for the region in question.

The government has been neglecting the request to withdraw illegal miners from the TIY, who act as a vector for contamination among the indigenous people, since the beginning of the pandemic. “We want to file this document with the Brazilian authorities. It is an instrument to denounce the problems of the gold diggers invasion, the contamination of the environment like our rivers, and also about the diseases, this xawara [epidemic], which has been killing many people,” said Dario Kopenawa Yanomami, vice president of the Hutukara Yanomami Association, one of the organizations behind the #ForaGarimpoForaCovid [Out with Gold diggin, out with Covid] campaign, which aims to expel gold diggers from Yanomami territory.

The report also denounces the lack of preventive strategies to contain the advance of contamination by the Yanomami Special Indigenous Health District (DESEI-Y), such as the use of more precise tests for the identification of the virus and the “statistical erasure of its dead in the pandemic,” marked by the underreporting of cases of those affected by the disease.

As another example of the mobilization of indigenous groups in an attempt to draw public attention to the violation of their lands, the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil Network (Apib), has also published a recent study containing a series of complaints about companies associated with the systematic devastation of indigenous territories, the “Complicity in destruction III: how global corporations contribute to violations of the rights of indigenous peoples in the Brazilian Amazon”. The document “reveals how a network formed by large international funding institutions is linked to the production and export of commodities involved in conflicts in Indigenous Lands, deforestation, shackling and weakening of environmental protections” says the text. Among the eleven companies mentioned are the mining companies Vale, Anglo American, Belo Sun, Potash of Brazil; the agribusiness sector, the companies Cargill, JBS, Cosan / Raízen; and in the energy sector, the companies Energisa Mato Grosso, Good Future Energy, Equatorial Energy Maranhão and Eletronorte. 

Covid-19 reaches isolated indigenous peoples at Vale do Javari; illegal gold diggers drive contamination

Indigenous organizations denounce governmental omission

Credit: APIB/Handout

23 Oct 20

Covid-19 reaches isolated indigenous peoples at Vale do Javari; illegal gold diggers drive contamination

Indigenous organizations, such as the Javari Valley  Indigenous Peoples Union (Univaja), the Javari Valley Kanamari Association and the Indigenous Peoples Network (APIB), released a statement warning about the arrival of Covid-19 at the Jarinal Village, in the far east of Javari Valley Indigenous Land (TI), Amazonas State, in the Amazon Region. The region concentrates many isolated indigenous groups that are now threatened by the virus.

With the first positive cases confirmed by the Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health (Sesai) among residents at Javari Valley Indigenous Land, the organizations are denouncing the federal government’s disobedience of a Supreme Court order which determined the set up of sanitary barriers to stop Covid-19 spread inside indigenous territories. The Court order came after a lawsuit filed by APIB and political parties to protect the Javari Valley. The deadline for implementing the barriers were ] September 30th, but the government never installed the blockades. The invasion by illegal gold diggers of indigenous lands  is also a driver of the virus spread;  organizations have been demanding control measures against them for months.

A study called “Is deforestation spreading COVID-19 to the indigenous peoples?”, by Brazilian economist Humberto Laudares, affiliated with Genebra University, in Switzerland, points to the correlation between deforestation, illegal gold mining and the contamination of indigenous people with Covid-19. According to the results of the research, conducted in over 5,000 municipalities in Brazil, deforestation and gold mining related to at least 22% of the confirmed Covid-19 cases among indigenous until August 31th. Every new 100 square kilometers of deforestation translates into 2,5 to 5,5 new coronavirus infections among indigenous populations.

Covid-19: Amado Menezes Filho, leader of the Sateré-Mawé people, dies at age 65

Amado fought for Covid-19 protection for the indigenous peoples

Crédito: Danilo Mello/Foto Amazonas/Amazônia Real

16 Oct 20

Covid-19: Amado Menezes Filho, leader of the Sateré-Mawé people, dies at age 65

The Tuxaua Geral (general-chief) of the village Sateré-Mawé, Amado Menezes Filho, died due to Covid-19 complications, at age 65, at the Jofre Cohen Hospital, in Paratins, Amazonas State. He was admitted at the hospital on September 23. 

During the pandemic, Menezes Filho fought actively to stop Covid-19 spread among indigenous populations. He demanded the maintenance of a sanitary barrier installed at Maraú River, which leads to the Indigenous Land Andirá Marau, home to the Sateré-Mawé. The Parintins Special Indigenous Sanitary District (DESEI) removed the barrier on May 31. On June 2nd, the Tuxaua Geral and many other leaders from Sateré-Mawé General Council, filed a note to repudiate the decision and denounce the removal of the barrier.

The absence of the barrier led to a rise of coronavirus cases among the indigenous. It rose from 30 and one death to 164 and 5 deaths, according to the Observatory of Indigenous Rights and Policies (OBIND).

Entities, newspapers and social movements recognized Amado Menezes Filho as an historical leader in the struggle for indigenous peoples rights, for land demarcation, health and education.

Covid-19: over 26 thousand cases confirmed among indigenous population, says organization

Covid-19 has reached 132 indigenous ethnicities

Credit: Christian Braga/Greenpeace

9 Oct 20

Covid-19: over 26 thousand cases confirmed among indigenous population, says organization

The Coordination of Indigenous Organizations in the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB) has been regularly reviewing the number of suspected, confirmed cases and registered deaths from Covid-19 in the states of the Amazon, such as Acre, Amazonas, Amapá, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima and Tocantins. As of October 8th, there are 26,037 infected by the virus, 671 suspects, and 673 deaths, affecting 132 indigenous peoples. The survey gathers official data from the Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health (Sesai) and information from leaders and professionals working in indigenous health, besides the network of COIAB organizations. The State of Amazonas concentrates the largest number of deaths – 205, among 26 indigenous ethnicities.

Covid-19: more than 700 Yanomami infected; malaria and invasion of gold diggers increase risks to indigenous group

Illegal gold diggers invasion in Yanomami lands on May, 2020

Crédito: Chico Batata

23 Sep 20

Covid-19: more than 700 Yanomami infected; malaria and invasion of gold diggers increase risks to indigenous group

Covid-19 has infected over 700 Yanomami have already, according to a September 22 bulletin from the Special Yanomami Indigenous Sanitary District (Dsei-Y). Seven indigenous individuals died in six different villages of the Yanomami Indigenous Land (IL). According to the District’s Indigenous Health Council (Condisi-Y), the federal government has not sent medics and medicines to the territory. Junior Yanomami, head of Condisi-Y, said that the government has abandoned the indigenous and that the health structure for the district is insufficient, having only one health professional for each 1,000 indigenous residents.

In a statement, the Ministry of Health denied the abandonment and mentioned an inter-ministerial mission that visited the Yanomami IL in June to fight the pandemic. The expedition became the target of a Federal Prosecution investigation for suspicion of violation of the isolation measures adopted by the communities, and also for distributing hydroxychloroquine — an unproven medication — to the indigenous to treat the coronavirus.

With over 9,000 hectares, the IL Yanomami is the largest in Brazil and sprawls across the states of Roraima and Amazonas. There are 26,780 indigenous living on the reservation. Besides the Covid-19 pandemic, the Yanomami also face high incidence of malaria, a tropical disease endemic to the Amazon and transmitted by mosquitoes. Malaria is a comorbidity that increases the death rate for coronavirus among indigenous peoples. According to data from Condisi -Y, between January 1st and August 12th, 2020, over 13,000 cases of malaria were reported in the Yanomami indigenous lands, with 9 deaths. In August, the Pro-Yanomami and Ye’kwana Network, which is monitoring the pandemic inside the indigenous territory, informed that out of all Covid-19 confirmed deaths, three were also malaria patients.

The rise in malaria and Covid-19 cases is related to the invasion of illegal gold diggers, that promote deforestation and spread diseases. Around 20,000 illegal gold diggers have entered the reservation this year alone. In June, the campaign against gold digging at Yanomami lands, #ForaGarimpoForaCovid, was launched with the aim to gather 500,000 signatures. The initiative is a joint effort between ISA (Socio-Environmental Institute), Yanomami Leadership Forum and Ye’kwana; and from Hutukara Yanomami Association (HAY), Wanasseduume Ye’kwana Association (SEDUUME), Yanomami Kumirayoma Women Association (AMYK), Association Texoli Ninam from Roraima State (TANER) and Yanomami Association from Cauaburis river and Affluents (AYRCA).

Covid-19: Chief Raoni is discharged from hospital; elders are still at risk

Chief Raoni Metuktire is known across the globe for his defense of indigenous people’s rights

Geraldo Magela/Agência Senado/via CC BY 2.0

4 Sep 20

Covid-19: Chief Raoni is discharged from hospital; elders are still at risk

One week after testing positive for Covid-19, chief Raoni Metuktire, 90, leader of the Kayapó people, was discharged from hospital in Mato Grosso. Besides Covid-19, the chief had lung problems.

Raoni is recognized internationally for his struggle to defend indigenous peoples, who saw his recovery as good news since Covid-19 disproportionately affects native Brazilians, according to the BBC. The report shows that the pandemic threatens to destroy, besides lives, entire cultures concentrated in their elders. Indigenous representatives consider the loss of the elders as an “true extermination of ethnicities”. Only in the Xingu region, in Pará State, Covid-19 caused the death of elders and chiefs like Aritana Yawalapiti, Juca Kamayurá, Jamiko Nafukuá, and Mamy Kalapalo. Among the Kokama people in Amazonas, at least 37 indigenous people, mostly the elderly, have died from the coronavirus. In Roraima State, the elderly Macuxi Bernaldina José Pedro, from TI Raposa Serra do Sol, died.

According to Apib — Indigenous Peoples in Brazil Network, which filed a lawsuit against the government in the Supreme Court for failure to provide assistance to indigenous people during the pandemic, indigenous populations infected by Covid-19 have a 9.6% lethality rate, while the average population in overall is 4%, according to the Ministry of Health.

Covid-19: Secretary for Indigenous Health barrs humanitarian aid to Terena people

Terena Council is requesting MSF’s aid since June 24th

Credits: MSF/Handout/via Facebook

19 Aug 20

Covid-19: Secretary for Indigenous Health barrs humanitarian aid to Terena people

According to a public denounce  by the Indigenous People’s Network (APIB),  Robson Santos da Silva, national director for the Special Secretary for Indigenous Health (SESAI), has barred the organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) from fighting the Covid-19 spread at the Indigenous Land Taunay Ipegue, of the Terena people, in Aquidauana municipality, Mato Grosso do Sul State. The motivation behind the ban on MSF was not disclosed.

APIB states that there is a tragic rise in deaths among the Terena community  because of the disease – 580% in under a month – and that the villages are under “sanitary collapse”. MSF’s support has been a demand by the Terena Council since July 24th. By the end of that month, Covid-19 had killed six individuals. By August 19th, there were 41 dead and 1239 contaminated among the Terena people.

Sanitary authorities review ban on Paraquat, one of the most lethal agrochemicals in the world

Brazil’s Sanitary Agency, Anvisa, might review ban on herbicide

Credits: Ascom/Anvisa

18 Aug 20

Sanitary authorities review ban on Paraquat, one of the most lethal agrochemicals in the world

An ordinance by the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa), from September, 2017, which banned the use of the herbicide Paraquat, is under review by the agency. The prohibition of Syngenta’s agrochemical was because of evidence that confirms that its use generates genetic mutation and Parkinson’s disease in the workers who have direct contact with it. The prohibition was scheduled to become effective on September, 22, 2020.

However, the sanitary agency had a board meeting on August 18th and the review of the ban was on the agendas. According to the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, Rômison Mota, rapporteur of the process, voted against the review of the ban deadline, since there was no justifiable reason. Anvisa might discuss the topic again at the next meeting.

In a comprehensive article about the subject, the NGO Repórter Brasil claimed the agency operated with a lack of transparency, since the documents about the meeting weren’t disclosed.

Landowners associations are trying to prove that the paraquat is safe, but there isn’t evidence to support that claim. The agrochemical has already been forbidden in Europe and China. According to Repórter Brasil’s article, the major argument supporting the safety of the agrochemical are two incomplete researches. The Ethics Committee of the Campinas State University (Unicamp) suspended one of them after the NGO pointed out the study as a key-piece of the agribusiness companies campaign to allow the use of Paraquat.

Covid-19: Chief Aritana, indigenous leader of Amazon's Alto Xingu, dies at age 71

The Indigenous People Network lamented Aritana’s passing

Credit: Midia Ninja

5 Aug 20

Covid-19: Chief Aritana, indigenous leader of Amazon’s Alto Xingu, dies at age 71

Chief Aritana, of the Yawalapiti ethnicity, died from Covid-19, at age 71. He was an important and historic indigenous leader of Alto Xingu, Mato Grosso State in the Amazon. Aritana was hospitalized on June 19th, in Mato Grosso. By the end of the month, health officials transferred him to a hospital in Goiás State, with a severe health condition. Aritana’s  hospital transfer reflects the obstacles to access proper care for Covid-19 faced and denounced by indigenous groups in Mato Grosso State. 

Alongside Chief Raoni, Aritana gained nation-wide recognition because of his engagement in the struggle for land preservation and indigenous rights. Environmentalists and indigenous organizations manifested their mourning for the loss and paid homage after his passing.

Covid-19: Supreme Court orders government to protect indigenous peoples

Indigenous organizations saw the decision as “positive”

Credits: Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/Agência Brasil

5 Aug 20

Covid-19: Supreme Court orders government to protect indigenous peoples

The Brazilian Supreme Court (STF) ratified in its entirety the precautionary decision made by justice Luís Roberto Barroso in June, which obliges Bolsonaro’s government to adopt emergency measures to fight Covid-19 spread among indigenous people. 

Indigenous associations, NGOs and environmentalists are denouncing the government’s neglect since the beginning of the pandemic. Brazil’s Articulation of Indigenous Peoples (APIB), who took part in the STF trial hearings, said the decision was a victory. However, on their website, they faulted the justices decision for “leaving out the issue of the invaders present in 7 indigenous territories.”

According to APIB, the government now shall create isolating barriers for isolated ethnicities, assembling task forces, with government and indigenous representatives, to accompany the progress of the actions against the pandemic and guarantee access and treatment in Brazil’s public health care system for indigenous who live and don’t live in reservations, such as the populations in urban areas.

Covid-19: Meat processing plants at the root of outbreak in the Cerrado

First coronavirus cases in Dourados Indigenous Land came from a JBS meat processing factory

Credits: Handout

3 Jul 20

Covid-19: Meat processing plants at the root of outbreak in the Cerrado

The Public Prosecutor on Labour issues (MPT) of Mato Grosso do Sul State informed that mass testings done in meat processing plants belonging to JBS and BRF corporations located in the municipality of Dourados point to over 1,000 infected people among its employees.


The municipality is also home to the Dourados Indigenous Reservation (RID), the most populated indigenous reservation in the country, inhabited by 15,800 indigenous individuals. The first confirmed case in the reservation was of an indigenous woman who works at JBS. In May, independent media observatories, such as Agência Pública and De Olho Nos Ruralistas, had already informed that the JBS factory was a dangerous vector of Covid-19 transmission among the indigenous.

Agência Pública contacted JBS for a statement, who said that it “adopts a rigorous control and prevention protocol inside their units”. BRF, according to a UOL article, stated that it started voluntary adopting testing protocols to prevent the spread “and keep the operations running with safety.”

Covid-19: indigenous Kayapo leader Paulo Paiakan dies in Pará

Paiakan, in January 2020, during a meeting of the Mebengokre peoples

Crédito: Kamikia Kisedje/ISA

17 Jun 20

Covid-19: indigenous Kayapo leader Paulo Paiakan dies in Pará

An indigenous leadership of the Kayapó people, Bepkororoti Payakan, also known as Paulo Paiakan, died after being infected by the Covid-19 in the south region of Pará State, in the Amazon. He was a historical figure among the indigenous movements of Brazil, having played a decisive role during the redemocratization process and as an active voice in the fight for rights and land demarcation in the Brazilian Constitution of 1988.

“Paiakan managed, like few others, to articulate social and environmental struggles. That is the legacy of the Kayapó leader that we lost today”, said, in a statement, the Socioambiental Institute (ISA).

Covid -19: Illegal gold digging camps expose 40% of the Yanomami to the pandemic

Gold mining camps are a major Covid-19 vector for indigenous peoples

Crédito: Leonardo Prado/PG/Fotos Públicas

2 Jun 20

Covid -19: Illegal gold digging camps expose 40% of the Yanomami to the pandemic

A study called “The pandemic impact at the Yanomami Indigenous Land: #OutWithGoldminingAndCovid”, by the Socioambiental Institute (ISA) in a partnership with the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), points that almost 40% of the yanomami indigenous people who live close to illegal gold mining areas at the Indigenous Land Yanomami (TIY) may become infected with the new coronavirus. The research considers invading  gold miners as the major vectors of transmission inside the demarcated territory. The report concluded that the Yanomami Indigenous Land is the most vulnerable territory in the Amazon regarding Covid-19,  once it faces high social vulnerability, precarious local health infrastructure and a history of respiratory ailments among its population.

Covid-19: JBS meat processing plant at origin of contamination among local indigenous people in Mato Grosso do Sul

An employee at a JBS factory in Dourados (MS) was the first indigenous to test positive to Covid-19

Crédito: De Olho nos Ruralistas/Handout

19 May 20

Covid-19: JBS meat processing plant at origin of contamination among local indigenous people in Mato Grosso do Sul

The first ten indigenous individuals who tested positive with Covid-19 at the Indigenous Reservation of Dourados, at Mato Grosso do Sul State, were infected at their workplace, in a JBS meat processing  plant at the municipality, according to a report by the website specialized in agribusiness De Olho nos Ruralistas. JBS is a Brazilian Meat and Food company, one of the largest in the world, sourcing from cattle ranching farms in the Amazon and Cerrado regions.

Chief Gaudêncio Benites, of the Guarani Kaiowá ethnicity and leader of the Bororó Village, states that, by May 19th, there were 30 individuals with symptoms. The spread could cause a tragedy to over 19,000 Guarani Kaiowás and Terenas that live in the territory.

A female JBS worker, who is a resident  in the Bororó village, was the first case confirmed among indigenous in the State, according to the Health Secretary of Mato Grosso do Sul  on April 13th.

The State Government of Mato Grosso do Sul said, in a statement , that it is trying to gather data on all people who had contact with the contaminated worker. According to chief Benites, the company tested only its workers, leaving out their families and community members. He also denounces that JBS is not supporting the sick and their families.

Covid-19: Indigenous leader dies in Manaus from coronavirus

Messias Kokama suffered with the critical situation in Manaus public health system

Crédito: De Olho Nos Ruralistas/Handout

14 May 20

Covid-19: Indigenous leader dies in Manaus from coronavirus

Indigenous Chief Messias Kokama, leader and founder of the Parque das Tribos, in Manaus, Amazonas State, died because of Covid-19 complications. Kokama, 53, resisted going to the hospital — he was afraid of being infected with the virus. Amazonas State is under a critical health situation. During April, it had the highest coronavirus transmission  rate in the country.

Covid-19: Medics attending indigenous people are not being properly tested

Federal government medical teams in attendance at Yanomami and Raposa Serra do Sol Indigenous Lands

Crédito: Defense Ministry/Federal Government

30 Apr 20

Covid-19: Medics attending indigenous people are not being properly tested

The medical staff of the Special Secretariat of Indigenous Health (Sesai), that provides health services to the indigenous populations, is not being properly tested for the new coronavirus.

The Sesai Special Sanitary Indigenous Districts received only a few rapid tests that don’t carry the necessary precision to detect the virus.

Professionals in the front-lines reported to Deutsche Welle that they feared being vessels of Covid-19 contamination at the indigenous territories. The Federal Attorney General Office (MPF) recommended that Sesai should provide PCR testing to all health workers before they enter indigenous regions. In response, Sesai alleged they do not have the capacity to provide testing kits.

Covid 19: virus reaches São Gabriel da Cachoeira (AM), Brazil's most indigenous municipality

The municipality has no ICU beds; aerial and river transportation are suspended

Crédito: Paulo Desana/Dabakuri/Amazônia Real/CC BY 2.0

26 Apr 20

Covid 19: virus reaches São Gabriel da Cachoeira (AM), Brazil’s most indigenous municipality

The municipality of São Gabriel da Cachoeira, in Amazonas State, which has 90% of its population identified as indigenous, has registered its first two Covid-19 cases. The locality is a gateway to the region known as Dog’s Head (Cabeça do Cachorro), home to 23 different indigenous ethnic groups. It’s also a route to the Yanomami Indigenous Land, between Amazonas and Roraima States.

The city doesn’t have any ICU beds – the closest hospital is in Manaus, capital of Amazonas, 850 kilometers in a straight line away from São Gabriel, according to the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo. As an aggravating factor, aerial and river transportation were suspended because of the pandemic. In the beginning of April, Amazonas had the highest Covid-19 transmission rate in the country.

Covid-19: Yanomami teenager is the first deceased among Amazon indigenous peoples

Alvanei Xirixana Pereira lived in villa Rehebe, a route for gold diggers

Crédito: Handout

11 Apr 20

Covid-19: Yanomami teenager is the first deceased among Amazon indigenous peoples

The 15-year-old teenager Alvanei Xirixana Pereira, of the Yanomami group, is the first indigenous victim of the Covid-19 in Brazil. He died at the municipality of Alto Alegre, Roraima State. The Ministry of Health stated that it didn’t receive an official notification with the cause of death and that there are no registries of deaths by Covid-19 among the indigenous in the country so far.

According to the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, the Sanitary District Yanomami is at a high risk of infection because of its proximity with the non-indigenous society. The teenager lived at the Rehebe village, which is en route for gold-diggers entering indigenous lands. 

The Hutukara Yanomami Association criticized the large presence of miners in the region and accused the government of neglect while dealing with Alvanei. “He went to Roraima General Hospital with respiratory symptoms on 18th of March, but was only diagnosed on April 7th. Meanwhile, he was sick and didn’t receive proper care”, says the release.

The National Indigenous Foundation (Funai) said that it regretted the death and said that health teams are already on location to monitor new cases and isolate the group.

In the beginning of April, caiapó leaders in Turedjam, Pará State, drove away gold diggers from their village fearing the pandemic.

Covid-19: Amazonas State has the highest transmission rate in Brazil

Burial at the cemetery Parque Tarumã, in Manaus.

Crédito: Amazônia Real/via Fotos Públicas

8 Apr 20

Covid-19: Amazonas State has the highest transmission rate in Brazil

The State of Amazonas, in the Amazon region, became the country’s region with the highest coronavirus transmission rate. After confirming the first Covid-19 case among indigenous, in Santo Antônio do Içá, the State rose from 260 positive cases to 804 in just a few days.Rosemary Pinto, director of the Foundation of Health Contro (FVS-AM), warned about the “boom” in Amazonas. The State’s health secretary said that the health system is limited and Delphina Assis Hospital received refrigerated containers to manage the bodies of the dead by the virus. In Santo Antônio do Içá, there are three contaminated indigenous individuals.

Covid-19: Gold diggers  advance into indigenous lands during pandemic

View from the Brazilian riverbank of the Oiapoque River, used as a route by gold diggers

Crédito: OBORÉ/Repórter do Futuro/Bruno Huberman/via CC

1 Apr 20

Covid-19: Gold diggers advance into indigenous lands during pandemic

The coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (Coica) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) received reports about an increased flow of illegal Brazilian miners at the Oiapoque river region, Amapa State, who were heading towards the French Guiana. Deutsche Welle Brasil (DW) talked with researchers from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and the Federal University of Ceará who stated that the Oiapoque is the primary route for smuggling of gold and other minerals illegally obtained. Claudette Labonté, president of the French Guiana Parikweneh Federation and a member of Coica said the police “let their guard down” during the pandemic. In February, the Brazilian government presented a bill that aims to legalize mining in indigenous territories.

Covid-19: First case confirmed among Amazon indigenous people

Medical staff arrives at Santo Antônio do Içá to monitor the situation

Crédito: Santo Antônio do Içá Health Department/Handout

31 Mar 20

Covid-19: First case confirmed among Amazon indigenous people

A 20 year old Kokama woman was the first diagnosed case of covid-19 among Amazon indigenous people. The Special Secretariat of Indigenous Health (Sesai) identified the case . The young woman lives in Santo Antônio do Içá, Amazonas State. The coordinator of Epidemiological Control of the municipality informed that people who had previous contact with her will be quarantined. Santo Antônio do Içá has 4 confirmed cases so far.

Covid-19: An ordinance by Funai allows contact with isolated indigenous people

Funai agents during operation against Covid-19 in the Waikás region.

Foto: Igor Soares/Ministry of Defense

20 Mar 20

Covid-19: An ordinance by Funai allows contact with isolated indigenous people

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, on March 17th, the National Indigenous Foundation (Funai) issued the Ordinance nº 419, that suspends for 30 days the issuing of permits for entering indigenous territories. The Indigenous Missionary Council (Cimi), however, identified critical excerpts in the text of the ordinance that open the possibility to contact isolated indigenous people amid the pandemic.

Cimi pointed out that the 3rd and 4th articles of the ordinance have serious problems. “The 3rd article in the ordinance conceives that the ‘Regional Coordinators will be able to issue permits in exceptional cases to take forward essential activities in indigenous communities’. The 4th article suspends all activities that may cause contact with isolated indigenous communities; however, following up, the paragraph opens an exception: “If the activity is essential to the survival of the isolated population, the authorities must allow their entrance through justifiable excuse”. The Council said it was “baffled” and “disgusted” at the possibility opened by the ordinance that would allow contact with isolated communities and reaffirmed the vulnerability of these populations facing “a grave and lethal virus”.

Indigenous groups protest in defense of health care

Avá-Guarani indigenous protesting in defense of indigenous health services

Credits: Paulina Martinez/via Cimi

25 Mar 19
Indigenous Health under attack

Secretary of Indigenous Health may be shut down

Crédito: Laszlo Mates/iStock

18 Feb 19

Indigenous Health under attack

The Ministry of Health considers changing the public healthcare system that attends indigenous populations, transferring the responsibilities from the federal government to state and city governments. Since 2010, 305 Indigenous ethnic groups (more than 700,000 individuals) are under the care of SESAI (Special Secretary on Indigenous Health), which belongs to the Ministry of Health. The government plans included the closure of the special secretary and an investigation on the contracts between SESAI and NGOs that are hired to do some of the basic care attendance. Indigenous movements strongly criticized the proposal.

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