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Brazil's Indigenous People Face A Possible 'Genocide' With Soaring COVID-19 Death Rates
COVID-19 is impacting nearly every community across the globe. But some have been hit harder than others. With limited access to hospitals and rapid medical attention, indigenous groups are seeing some of the most heartbreaking devastation.
Reports are showing Brazil’s indigenous people could face a “genocide” as their death rate from the coronavirus soars to 12.6%, nearly 6% above the national average. According to CNN, more than 60 indigenous communities across Brazil have confirmed cases of COVID-19.
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Sebastião Salgado, a Brazilian activist and photographer, told CNN: “The indigenous people in the Amazon don’t have the antibodies for the diseases that come from outside of the rainforest. There is a huge danger that the coronavirus could come inside indigenous territory and become a real genocide.”
A global coalition of actors, thinkers, celebrities, and artists demanded on May 1 in an open letter that Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s president, take immediate action to protect these groups.
“Five centuries ago, these ethnic groups were decimated by diseases brought by European colonizers,” the letter said. “Now, with this new scourge spreading rapidly across Brazil … [they] may disappear completely since they have no means of combating COVID-19.”
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The spike in deaths across the Latin American country has caused fear for many of its citizens. On May 19, Brazil saw more than 1,000 deaths as the numbers continue to rise. Brazil currently has more than 390,000 reported cases and over 24,500 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.
In the past, President Bolsonaro has downplayed the threat of the virus, even suggesting that the Brazilian people are immune. Only time will tell if he steps up to protect these endangered communities before history repeats itself.