The COVID-19 Crisis and Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous man. Espirito Santo, Brazil, November 2005.  Tupinikim and Guaraní peoples cut down a plantation of eucalyptus trees owned by Aracruz Celulose to rebuild this village in its traditional location. The village had been forcibly removed to make room for the plantation under Brazil’s military dictatorship that took power in 1964 until 1985. In January 2006, the Brazilian government used equipment owned by Aracruz Celulose to raze and burn the village and chase the residents out of the area, shooting them with rubber bullets and wooden dowels from a helicopter. The following September, the Indigenous residents returned and rebuilt the village in the same location. Photo: Anne Petermann/GJEP

COVID-19 crisis tells world what Indigenous Peoples have been saying for thousands of years

National Observer Emilee Gilpin

“The coronavirus is telling the world what Indigenous Peoples have been saying for thousands of years — if we do not help protect biodiversity and nature, we will face this and even worse threats,” said Levi Sucre Romero, a BriBri Indigenous person from Costa Rica and co-coordinator of the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB).

Romero was one of three Indigenous leaders invited to speak on the panel for an event sponsored by Covering Climate Now, a global partnership of more than 400 news outlets working to increase accurate news coverage on climate change.

“The coronavirus reminds us that the balance of the Earth is in danger, and we need to maintain our delicate balance of diversity,” Sucre Romero said. “More than 25 per cent of medicine comes from forests. If we lose our forests, we lose our medicines, too.”

Sucre Romero coordinates AMPB, an alliance of ten grassroots Indigenous and community groups that manage and preserve more than 50 million hectares of forest, from Mexico to Panama. He was joined by Dinamam Tuxá, coordinator of the Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil, lawyer and Indigenous social activist, and Mina Setra, a Dayak Pompakng Indigenous person from West Kalimantan, Indonesia, and deputy secretary-general of the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (IPAA).

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