The Covid-19 Pandemic has once again highlighted the inequalities that are experienced in the world, inequalities caused by historical cultural factors derived from colonization, inequalities that have historically kept Indigenous Peoples at a disadvantage, the peoples that It has historical problems of health, poverty and marginalization, manifested in various ways, to this, now is added the threat of COVID-19, which affects several communities in the region.
So there is an urgent need for joint actions between governments, international cooperation, Indigenous Peoples and the general population to prevent their physical and cultural disappearance.
In Latin America, the indigenous population exceeds 45 million people, just under 10% of the total population of the region. Many communities are “highly fragile”, as they are in danger of “physical or cultural disappearance”.
It is estimated that some 462 towns currently have less than 3,000 inhabitants and around 200 of them are in voluntary isolation, all in extremely difficult situations.
According to the UN Expert Mechanism, “The spread of COVID-19 has exacerbated and will continue to exacerbate an already critical situation for many Indigenous Peoples: a situation where inequalities and discrimination already abound. Increasing recessions nationwide and the real possibility of a global depression will further aggravate the situation, causing fear that many indigenous people will die, not only from the virus itself, but also from conflict and violence linked to the scarcity of resources, and in particular of drinking water and food ”.
It is noteworthy that COVID-19 aggravates the situation faced by indigenous peoples, who present high percentages of poverty, maternal and child mortality, anemia, malnutrition, infectious diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis or dengue.
To this, unlimited access to health services, lack of access to adequate water and hygiene facilities, in addition to facing frequent obstacles to put their traditional medicine into practice and the state’s indifference in meeting the demands of Indigenous Peoples.
In this context, with the aim of saving lives and protecting Indigenous Peoples, the Fund for the Development of Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean (FILAC) together with the Abya Yala Indigenous Forum (FIAY) and indigenous organizations of the region, among other actions, created the Regional Indigenous Platform in front of COVID-19 “For Life and Peoples”.
Through this Platform, the aim is to promote the exchange of information, analysis and operational coordination to generate and enhance capacities, as well as dialogue with governments and international organizations, to promote adequate responses and actions to contain and mitigate the problems caused by the COVID -19 pandemic in the indigenous peoples of the continent.
As part of the work of this Platform, the First Report “Indigenous Peoples against COVID-19” was presented, which offers relevant data on the pandemic, among which it is noteworthy that in the Amazon, according to a report by the Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA), 679 cases with 40 deceased persons have been confirmed in the area, distributed in the nine countries of the basin (Brazil, EP Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Guyana, French Guyana and Suriname).
Similarly, in Argentina, a community of the Pom people, Province of Santa Fe, is affected by a person infected; in Brazil, according to the Special Secretary for Indigenous Health (SESAI), as of April 28 there were 3 affected communities, 92 confirmed cases of contaminated people, 54 with clinical cure and 4 people who died from the virus. Indigenous organizations maintain that, as of April 29, the number of deceased indigenous people is 15 and the total number of infected persons is 97.
In Colombia, the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) has organized a registration system that allows for updated data. There are reports of 4 affected indigenous communities, 8 infected indigenous people (3 Pastos, 2 Yukpa, 1 Zenú, 1 Yanacona, 1 Zenú Bogotá), 52 under observation, and 4 cases of recovered indigenous people. The first case of a deceased indigenous person belonging to the Yanakuna people has been confirmed. According to ONIC records, there are almost 250,000 indigenous families at risk.
In the case of Chile, the Mapuche community Carilafquen, Pitrufquen affected, with a woman who died on April 6; in Mexico, according to the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples INPI, as of April 27, in the regions covered by the institution, there are 110 positive cases of speaking indigenous languages, with 26 people deceased; In Panama, on April 23, indigenous organizations reported 57 cases in the Guna Yala regions, 2 of them with deaths of the infected person.
In the case of Peru, as of April 18, 2 affected communities were known, with 3 indigenous people confirmed with the virus in Shipibo-Conibo in Ucayali and in a Quechua community in Pastaza. In the triple border with Brazil and Colombia (Ticunas and Yaguas communities) 17 cases were confirmed, but it has not been reported if they are indigenous people.
Likewise, the report discloses the actions that governments are developing to prevent the expansion of this new disease, protect the population and reduces the probability of a massive contagion, is the case of the government of Costa Rica, which has adopted technical guidelines for the prevention of COVID-19 in indigenous territories.
It also reflects the actions of Indigenous Peoples, who have responded creatively and committedly to the reality they face, with a clear awareness of the urgency and seriousness of the situation and have carried out different actions to confront COVID-19.
Likewise, it makes a series of recommendations to governments and to all the entities that in one way or another play a relevant role in the fight against COVID-19; Among some of them: protect vulnerable populations and meet the specific needs of each indigenous community; develop within the National Health Information Systems mechanisms that disaggregate and systematize the information identifying indigenous people affected by CODIV-19; promote and facilitate the exchange of good practices between indigenous peoples, communities and organizations in the region.
Article translated from Centraleconomia.net. Read the original in Spanish here.