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.