manifest for solidarity with indigenous peoples in Brazil
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Indigenous Lives Matter. And in the midst of the pandemic, our lives have become the subject of attacks, persecution and extermination. This manifesto is about the struggle for indigenous lives. Lives neglected by the government and lives saved by solidarity. Lives we lost, and lives that we try to protect. The life of indigenous people who are in villages and cities, but above all, our life in the broader sense and which is under intense attack: our territories, our identity and ways of life, forests, rivers, biodiversity … Mother Earth.
By November 2020, more than 41 thousand indigenous people were contaminated by new coronavirus, reaching more than half of the 305 people living in Brazil.
We, of the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples do Brasil (Apib), and all of our grassroots organizations, with representations in five regions of the country, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, we strive daily for peoples’ lives.
It was between March and November 2020, that violence against indigenous peoples increased both inside and outside our territories. The criminals who invade our lands have not been quarantined let alone working home office. We affirm that the worsening of violence against indigenous peoples, during the pandemic, was encouraged by Bolsonaro.
What the federal government actually did in this period? It tried to use the health crisis and the pandemic to “pass the cattle” over our rights, our bodies and our lands. Such actions marked the government of the current president and senior echelon of the federal government during the humanitarian and health crisis, which also reached our peoples and communities.
We warn that this situation of violence directly and indirectly affects our 305 peoples, relatives in voluntary isolation and also the Warao indigenous people, who are refugees from Venezuela and live in a situation of extreme vulnerability in Brazil.
With speeches filled with racism and hatred, Bolsonaro encourages violence against
our communities and paralyzes the actions of the State that should promote assistance, protection and guarantees of our rights. It tries to take advantage of the “opportunity” of this crisis to proceed with a series of decrees, ordinances, normative instructions, provisional measures and bills to legalize crimes and diminish the constitutional rights of indigenous peoples. They were silent actions in protection and active in plundering.
More than 1 million people died around the world as a result of the spread of Covid-19 (until the end of November), and Brazil reached, in July, the highest number of deaths among countries.
Indigenous peoples were proportionally the most affected by the virus. The number of deaths reached 880 in nine months, according to the community participatory monitoring project carried out by the National Committee for Indigenous Life and Memory, created by Apib and its grassroots organizations and partners. A tragedy unparalleled in recent history. Way more than numbers, they were our shamans, our prayers, midwives, elders and chiefs who left. We lost our elderly people, the ones who keep the memories of our ancestry, guardians of knowledge, of songs, of prayers, of our spirituality. Leaders who dedicated their lives to the struggle to defend the territory, the integrity and the physical and cultural existence of their peoples. We suffer in our mourning for this tragedy that affects not only us indigenous people, but all of humanity.
The pandemic exposed the hate policy that Apib had already denounced. Political violence and persecution have further accelerated. From March to November, more than 200 fundamental human rights violations against indigenous peoples were recorded. An alarming situation that gets worse every day.
In this atmosphere of terror, the federal government promotes the greedy fury of agribusiness, mining companies, corporations and international investment funds.
Encourages the action of land grabbers, invaders, and so many other criminals who continue to advance into indigenous territories, taking advantage of the tragedy we are experiencing. The fire and deforestation, carried out in 2020, can not be denied in the face of satellite images and our horizon permanently foggy. It seems that in the flames they see profit, and in felled trees, there is only greed.
TURNS OUT WE DECIDED NOT DIE, BUT FIGHT TIRELESSLY IN DEFENSE OF LIFE.
We denounce the aggressions against our rights in the legislative scope, which validate racism, dehumanize our existence and who want to extinguish our self-determination over our territories and lives. We have appealed to the Judiciary to defend our assured rights by the Brazilian Constitution of 1988. Over these eight months, we provoked the judiciary through actions, including Arguition for Failure to Comply with Fundamental Precept (ADPF) 709 in the Federal Supreme Court (STF). We achieved victories, such as the determination of the STF to oblige the Federal Government to fulfill its duty in protecting indigenous peoples in the context of the pandemic. A Supreme Court decision, which still wasn’t met by Bolsonaro.
Apib and its grassroots organizations keep working daily to strengthen, protect and value indigenous health professionals. Especially to our relatives who are on the front line facing this crisis, even though they are one of the greatest risk groups of Covid-19. We reinforce that the Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health (Sesai) is the result of the struggle and mobilization of Apib and the entire indigenous movement.
We created the “Indigenous Emergency” plan due to the active omission of the Federal Government in fighting the virus. We do not want to replace the role of the State, on the contrary, we continue to demand the implementation of public policies that guarantee our
rights. But we also can’t stay with our arms crossed. In this sense, we were able to articulate resources and materials to equip, on an emergency basis, several Special Indigenous Sanitary Districts (DSEIs) in several states. We deliver test equipment, hygiene materials, personal protective equipment, oxygen, concentrators, and we enable the installation of Indigenous Primary Care Units (UAPIs) in various territories.
On our own initiative, we created and maintained hundreds of health barriers to prevent the virus from reaching communities. A measure that the Federal Government does not just neglected but tried to sabotage in different ways. This basic action, that our communities have implemented on their own, was instrumental in minimizing the impacts of the new coronavirus among our relatives across the country.
At our bases we continue to resist, inspired above all by the strength of indigenous women and our ancestors. We care for the land and strengthen ourselves in the forests, rivers, prayers and our traditional medicines. We perform our rituals, we cry our mourning. And we keep looking for strength.
In the social networks, we played our Maracás. We demarcated the screens and resignified our mobilizations over the internet. We held the 16th Terra Livre Camp, in 2020 virtually, due to the pandemic, reaching more than 1.5 million people during the four days of online activities. We promoted the National Assembly of Indigenous Resistance, bringing together hundreds of leaders from all over the country and rearticulating our fight strategies. With the Maracá online series, we mobilize the support of hundreds of indigenous and non-indigenous personalities, leaders, artists, scientists, parliamentarians and researchers to our Indigenous Emergency plan. To give us strength, we called on the online Indigenous Women March, to debate the sacred of existence and to strengthen joint actions. We promoted Earth Healing, a global gathering of indigenous women.
From fear, silence, death and terror, we recreate hope! We plant our gardens, fetch water to drink, clean the village floor and fix the roofs with collective work. Living close to Nature. Our life is in defense of the forest, biodiversity and the Planet, and that is why we must fight together in its defense.
Our young people cry for their masters, their examples and life inspirations, but our ancestry is long, millenary and has taught us to dream. From the pain of genocide and persecution, which we are suffering, we have survived close to the ground of our land, which is our blood and exists in every part of this Brazilian territory. And we will not give up on recreating our devastated worlds and continuing our existences.
WE WILL NOT GIVE UP ON LIVING!
Indigenous blood: not a single drop more!