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June 3, 2020

Indigenous Brazilian groups call on Bolsonaro to limit spread of Covid-19

By JP Casey

Indigenous Brazilian group the Yanomami has called on President Jair Bolsonaro to crack down on illegal mining in their lands, due to concerns that the miners are spreading Covid-19 to otherwise isolated communities.

A total of 167 indigenous people in Brazil have died from Covid-19, with three members of the Yanomami among those to have lost their lives. The group places part of the blame for the spread of the virus to remote locations on illegal miners, who have felt emboldened to expand their operations under the pro-mining Bolsonaro Administration, but who could be inadvertently spreading the pandemic.

This phenomenon has been seen elsewhere across South America, with miners and mining companies alleged to have brought Covid-19 to remote communities who otherwise would have had no contact with the virus. In Ecuador, 100 groups have voiced their support for the Shuar Artuam People , who claim that Canadian miner Solaris has played a role in spreading Covid-19 among the community.

Brazil has seen a similar outpouring of support; human rights organisations have produced a petition calling for the Brazilian Government to better protect indigenous people from the spread of the virus, and has gained close to 300,000 signatures in the last three months.

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