COVID-19 Infections Rising in Brazilian Amazon

Photo courtesy of World Rainforest Movement

In Brazil, COVID-19 outbreak paves way for invasion of indigenous lands

Mongabay 10 April 2020

Sam Cowie

With outsider encroachment into indigenous reserves continuing to escalate in the Brazilian Amazon and the COVID-19 outbreak spreading rapidly throughout the country, indigenous people are increasingly vulnerable to both violence and infection. The threats are exacerbated by a reduction in environmental oversight by authorities due to social distancing restrictions imposed in response to the pandemic.

Indigenous leaders and advocates told Mongabay they fear the situation will get worsen in the coming months as loggers, land grabbers and illegal miners take advantage of the coronavirus chaos to accelerate their attacks on indigenous territories, emboldened by President Jair Bolsonaro’s rhetoric and reports of a drop in enforcement activities.

“These criminals won’t respect social distancing. Much the opposite: they will take advantage to be able to work more peacefully,” Antonio Oviedo, a monitoring coordinator at the Socio-Environmental Institute (ISA), an NGO that defends indigenous rights, told Mongabay.

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