We, the traditional Councils of the Guarani & Kaiowá People, Aty Guasu (General Assembly of the Guarani & Kaiowá People), Kuñangue Aty Guasu (Great Assembly of Guarani & Kaiowá Women), RAJ (Guarani & Kaiowá Youth Movement), Aty Jeroky Guasu (General Assembly of Guarani & Kaiowá Shamans), hereby announce that we stand in the face of yet another massacre with the arrival of COVID-19 in our Tekohás (indigenous territories), and we make this appeal for our survival.
We are approximately 51,000 Guarani & Kaiowá, the second largest indigenous population in Brazil, located in the State of Mato Grosso do Sul, and we find ourselves in a State of Emergency. It has been 520 years of massacres and diseases, brought to us during our violent experience of colonisation in Brasil. We are left with few of our elders, the guardians of our traditional knowledge. Their lives and the lives of our communities are at risk, and the loss of the history of a People. Who will be held responsible for the death of our People?
In the first three days of tests, the Indigenous Reserve of Dourados (RID), the most populated reserve in Brasil, today (16th of May 2020) announced 10 confirmed cases of Coronavirus in the community. All Guarani & Kaiowá villages are under alert, setting up protective barriers and blocking access to their territories. The data presented by the Special Secretary of Indigenous Healthcare point to multiple suspected cases in diverse Guarani & Kaiowá territories, which extends beyond the under-reported number in Brazil as a whole.
The living conditions in indigenous villages don’t permit domestic isolation, and encourage rapid and large-scale transmission, and given the high lethality of COVID-19 we urgently need support areas for the isolation of confirmed patients.
We are in the largest Special Indigenous Healthcare District (DSEI) in Brasil, where 70% of patients are Guarani & Kaiowá. With the advance of Coronavirus in indigenous villages, following the epidemiological bulletin of the Secretary of Indigenous Healthcare (SESAI), the city of Dourados, with few hospital beds available, will not be able to support the number of indigenous people infected. The Secretary of Indigenous Healthcare is in URGENT need of being strengthened to confront this pandemic.
Local municipal authorities are weakened, but even so the Federal Government wishes to transfer indigenous healthcare to municipal bases. The situation presented by COVID-19 just serves to demonstrate the incapacity of municipalities to address the healthcare needs of indigenous peoples in our territories, such that not even emergency services manage to attend the villages furthest from urban centres.
The contact networks of the confirmed cases are being traced and tested. This brings concerns considering that the Indigenous Reserve of Dourados has the largest Guarani & Kaiowá population in the state, a total of 17,300 indigenous people. Medical teams are working to contain the spread of the virus, and following the confirmation of these first cases the indigenous healthcare response plan moves into its second stage, where wide- scale testing will be carried out among the indigenous population. The Secretary of Indigenous Healthcare only provides basic medical attendance, and urgently needs State Health Services (SUS) to take joint responsibility for providing indigenous populations with specialised medical support during the crisis.
We of the Aty Guasu (General Assembly of the Guarani & Kaiowá People), Kuñangue Aty Gauss (Great Assembly of Guarani & Kaiowá Women), RAJ (Guarani & Kaiowá Youth Movement), and Aty Jeroky Guasu (General Assembly of Guarani & Kaiowá Shamans) are calling for specialised healthcare support for indigenous people, the URGENT fortification of the emergency services which respects the specificities of our People: ambulances, hospital beds, alternatives to isolation in our community, protection for workers and their family contact networks, respirators, and spaces for our dead in the cemeteries.
All donations of humanitarian aid for survival are welcome: food, masks made with three layers of cotton, sanitation products for communities, water tanks for storage, and seeds to plant in our gardens.
We recommend that the entire Guarani & Kaiowá community stay in their Tekohás (indigenous territories), and that all leaders assume responsibility for blockading all entry points to indigenous territories to protect the health of the Guarani & Kaiowá People, permitting entry only to healthcare workers and humanitarian aid.
We thank all support and we pay tribute to all workers who are on the front lines of the Coronavirus pandemic. We express our solidarity to all the families who are in mourning.
This is not only a health crisis, it is the genocide of our people, whose treatment is racist and inhumane. IT IS URGENT! We are asking for HELP!
ATY GUASU , KUNANGUE ATY GUASU, RETOMADA ATY JOVEM e ATY JEROKY GUASU.
Contact details for more information:
Aty Guasu – General Assembly of the Guarani & Kaiowá People
+55(0)67996574194 / +55(0)67996220420 / +55(0)67998949098
Kunangue Aty Guasu – Great Assembly of Guarani & Kaiowá Women
+55(0)679963422972 / +55(0)67999259450 / +55(0)67992737058 / +55(0)67997156477 / +55(0)67999415652
RAJ – Guarani & Kaiowá Youth Movement
+55(0)67996271302 / +55(0)67992250496
Guarani & Kaiowá Tekohas, 16th of May 2020.