Regional News • Americas • Brazil
Brazil is losing a generation of indigenous leaders to Covid-19
Members of the Munduruku people demonstrating in Brasilia
Members of the Munduruku people demonstrating in Brasilia Credit: Marcelo Camargo/ Agencia Brasil

The death of chief Paulinho Paiakan, an iconic defender of the Amazon rainforest, was the most recent on a growing Covid-19 death toll that already took Bep Karoti Xikrin, chief of the Xikrin, and another ten leaders of the Munduruku people.

The indigenous organization APIB counted at least 332 Covid-19 deaths, and 7,208 confirmed cases across 110 communities. “We are facing extermination,” said its executive coordinator, Dinamam Tuxá.

Tuxá said Brazil’s Funai indigenous agency has taken too long to send emergency food kits to people isolating in their villages, forcing them to risk infection by traveling to nearby towns for emergency government payments.

Regional News • Americas • Brazil
Spike in Covid-19 related deaths among Brazil's indigenous tribes
Spike in Covid-19 related deaths among Brazil's indigenous tribes
Credit: APIB (Reproduction)

According to Reuters, the Articulation of Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples (APIB) stated that deaths among Brazil’s indigenous populations had increased five-fold in the past month to 182 by June 1. Epidemiologists had hoped remote tribe locations might protect the tribes, but this is not happening.

The official death toll provided by Brazil’s Health Ministry is smaller, putting the number of dead at only 59. The discrepance comes from the fact the Brazilian government only classify indigenous deaths if they occurred among tribes living on reservations but not those of people who have migrated to cities.