Brazil Fails To Prevent COVID-19 Spread In Indigenous Communities: The Xavante Example (5-31-20)

Brazil Fails To Prevent COVID-19 Spread In Indigenous Communities: The Xavante Example

Laura R. Graham


In a genocidal move that exposes an entire A’uwẽ-Xavante community to COVID-19, Brazilian health officials returned a COVID-19-infected man to the village of Marawãitsédé where health and sanitation are highly precarious. The decision to return this man to Marawãitsédé, which has a population of approximately 900 and where A’uwẽ-Xavante suffer malnutrition and extremely high rates of diabetes, violates WHO guidelines and recommendations for the treatment of confirmed COVID-19 cases: Track, Test, and Treat, where treatment includes isolation to protect co-residents and communities. It also violates the National Indian Health Service policy to make sure that domestic environments are adequate to insure the isolation of confirmed COVID-19 cases.  In fact, Indian Health Service’s special COVID-19 guidelines are misleading, vague and inadequate for the current situation. Its standard COVID-19 protocol — “Test and Return Home for domestic isolation” — is irresponsible and completely out of step with Indigenous realities where isolation is impossible.  The policy condemns many Indigenous people, including A’uwẽ-Xavante, to certain infection and premature death.  Brazil’s COVID-19 policies and protocols for Indigenous People are criminal and genocidal. They undermine all institutions (FUNAI, SESAI, IBAMA) whose responsibility is to respect, protect, and fulfill the rights of Indigenous Peoples. They also violate Indigenous Peoples’ rights to health and safety as guaranteed by Brazil’s national Constitution (article 231), as well as ILO Convention 169 and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

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