COVID-19: Indigenous Amazonian Leaders Denounce Inequitable Access to the Vaccine and Premeditated Inaction of Governments in the Face of the New Strain of Coronavirus in Brazil

While governments and multinational corporations prepare for a virtual Davos Forum, Indigenous Amazonian peoples are abandoned to their fate and demand humanitarian aid in the face of the new Brazilian strain of COVID-19

Amazon Emergency Fund, COICA

For more information, contact:

Ada Recinos at ada@amazonwatch.org or +1.510.473.7542
Raúl Estrada at raulestradagonzalez@gmail.com or +52 1 55 8019 6422
Nadino Calapucha at comunicacioncoica@gmail.com or +593 988551091


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Quito, Ecuador – Leaders of the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) denounced discriminatory policies regarding the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and accused governments in the region of not responding to the needs of Indigenous peoples in the face of the spreading Brazilian strain of the virus. COICA has issued a call for action to the international community to support raising humanitarian funds and rapidly responding to the crisis given government inaction.

José Gregorio Díaz Mirabal, of the Wakuenai Kurripaco-Venezuela people, and General Coordinator of COICA, said:

"The governments of the region have failed all the inhabitants of the Amazon, both the Indigenous peoples and the rest of those who live in the [Amazon] Basin. More than 1,775,000 cases and more than 42,000 deaths speak of the magnitude of the ineptitude and disinterest of our leaders."

Last week, COICA issued a petition to the governments of the Amazon requesting that sanitary measures and epidemiological borders be implemented, as well as ensuring the effective functioning of specialized medical care units in the territories of the Amazonian Indigenous peoples. Additionally, COICA specifically demanded that the Brazilian government guarantee access to vaccines for 100 percent of the Indigenous population and also demanded that other Amazonian countries proceed with vaccination campaigns according to the decisions and consent expressed in prior consultation by Indigenous peoples.

"The development of the new wave of COVID-19, now exacerbated by the appearance of the Brazilian variant (P1), affects the most vulnerable and reveals the tragedies that affect our peoples: social inequality, poverty, marginalization, and the absence of support from the national government. Now we also see discrimination and unequal distribution in vaccination processes: 0.0000001 percent [of Indigenous people vaccinated], that is, nothing," continued Mirabal.

Francinara Soares, from the Baré people, Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB) explained:

"Amazonía is experiencing a scenario of war, not only against COVID-19, but against President Bolsonaro who treats the pandemic like the flu and ensures that nothing happens. But we are living through it. The Indigenous peoples are the most affected by COVID-19: infection rates have been 89,000 per 100,000 inhabitants and in the Amazon, this rate is 200 percent. Indigenous people are exceeding the national average. This is very alarming. The northern region is the most affected by the negligence of the government. For this reason, it is important to strengthen health barriers to prevent the new variant of COVID-19 from advancing, otherwise it will be a new genocide."

Since 2020, in Brazil alone, more than 30,000 cases have been registered in 140 Indigenous nations, more than 730 suspected cases, and almost 750 deaths in 107 Indigenous nations in the Amazon, according to official data and Indigenous grassroots organizations. In fact, a study by Conectas Direitos Human and the Center for Research and Studies of Health Law of the School of Public Health of the University of São Paulo (USP) revealed "the existence of an institutional strategy to spread of the virus, promoted by the Brazilian government and under the leadership of the president."

Due to the inaction of the governments of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, French Guiana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela, COICA has relaunched a campaign to raise more funds through the Amazon Emergency Fund, which has raised US$2.7 million since May 2020.

"This pandemic is killing our brothers and sisters – our leaders – throughout the Amazon and if they don't help us defend it, we are going to disappear. We ask the wealthy countries to help us with financial resources to strengthen the Amazon Emergency Fund. We need at least US$5 million for medicine and food, and to take the resources to the Indigenous peoples of the nine countries that make up the Amazon Basin. We need help from all wealthy nations, from presidents, friends, and civil organizations, otherwise, our sisters and brothers will have to go out and expose themselves to new infections, " concluded Tomas Candia Yusupi, from the Chiquitano people, president of the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia (CIDOB).

More Information

  • The full press conference is available here.
  • The panelists are available for interviews, contact:
    • Raúl Estrada at raulestradagonzalez@gmail.com or via WhatsApp +52 1 55 8019 6422
    • Nadino Calapucha at comunicacioncoica@gmail.com or via WhatsApp +593 988551091

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