Eye on the Amazon

International Organizations Amplify Indigenous Peoples' Demands in Response to Coronavirus Pandemic

Among the demands, Indigenous peoples call for an Amazon-wide moratorium on all extractive activity on their territories

Photo credit: Rogério Assis / MNI

COVID-19 poses a mortal threat to Amazonian Indigenous peoples. They are sounding the alarm that "Coronavirus could wipe us out", as recently headlined in The Guardian. According to the Pan-Amazon Religious Network (REPAM), as of April 7th, there have already been at least 1,868 cases of the disease in the region and 59 deaths. Those numbers are likely to explode in the coming weeks, and we need to take action now to prevent more deaths.

Responding to calls for international support, Amazon Watch partnered with Indigenous organizations to issue a public statement in solidarity with demands from Amazonian communities and federations. Together in partnership with international organizations, we join Indigenous peoples in demanding:

  • a moratorium on all extractive activities like mining, oil, and logging, industrial agriculture, and all religious proselytization;
  • the right to self-determination and self-protection during the pandemic;
  • adequate and culturally-appropriate public health services;
  • law enforcement on organized crime threats in and around Indigenous territories;
  • the creation of urgent action working groups to deal with the health, food, and security emergencies that have arisen during this pandemic.

Some of the world's most prominent environmental and human rights organizations have already signed onto the statement, including the Sierra Club, Avaaz, Stand.Earth, Friends of the Earth U.S., Rainforest Action Network, and over 80 more.

Due to lack of government response, Indigenous communities and organizations took measures to protect themselves weeks ago by closing their territories to any outsiders and demanding urgent action from their governments. As reported by Al Jazeera, “the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENIAE) closed all access to the rainforest, denying entrance to both tourists and Ecuadorian nationals. They also demanded that all oil, mining, hydroelectric, and logging companies that operate in the rainforest stop rotating their personnel and bringing people in from the cities and suspend all activities near communities.”

In addition to promotion of these urgent demands, Amazon Watch has been working on multiple fronts to respond to the calls from Amazonian partners (see these statements from COICA, AIDESEP, and APIB). This includes quickly ramping up several rapid response grants to our Indigenous allies across the entire Amazon via our Amazon Defenders Fund.

Two weeks ago we also launched an international urgent action – now with over 6,600 signatures – in support of the Ecuadorian Indigenous movement's demands for an appropriate response to the crisis from their government. We are increasing our activities online and on the ground as we anticipate that this grave threat will worsen in the weeks and months to come.

Help us amplify this international statement in solidarity with Indigenous demands! Retweet us on Twitter, share our Facebook post, and re-post us on Instagram.

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