Herd immunity is the genocide of indigenous peoples in Brazil

Herd immunity is the genocide of indigenous peoples in Brazil

With despair rising, many people have seen a mirage of herd immunity on the horizon. “It is possible that São Paulo is close to the range where herd immunity occurs”, says Fernando Reinhach, famous left-leaning epidemiologist. With the fall in numbers in June and the permanent plateau associated with a data blackout, many people are saying that the disease has passed and deaths are decreasing a lot - in Rio de Janeiro there were only 195 deaths, why! Look at the Amazon where a study found that 20% of the capital's population was infected, the covid-19 slowed down and it is already possible to see a pattern of herd immunity, as mentioned in this news. The price? Modical 80 thousand dead and growing. And the indigenous? 501 dead so far. Perhaps entire ethnic groups destroyed. We'll talk a little more about this later.

The study leader at the Federal University of Pelotas Pedro Halial estimates that 3.8% of Brazilians have acquired the covid-19 so far. 80 thousand dead. That is why, he says, "expecting herd immunity is absurd and unethical." Scientists at the Center for Epidemiological Research at the Federal University of Pelotas (UFPel) carried out tests to detect antibodies against the coronavirus in 89,397 people from 133 cities in various states and interviews to understand how the virus affects different social classes and ethnic groups. It is a well done research. The federal government's response? Cut the funding for this research because it's saying something that doesn't matter.

What is herd immunity, anyway? An ideology. And not just any ideology, it is an ideology that has become a technology for exterminating the old, the weak, the “undesirable”. Dominic Cummings, the first ideologue of the process, summed up the idea well: “protect the economy, and if some pensionists die, shame"! Put another way by Boris Johnson: “One of the theories is that maybe you can catch this virus head on, take it all at once and allow the disease, so to speak, to move through the population, without taking so many draconian measures” Put another way by Bolsonaro: “It's like a rain, it will hit you”.

Doubt it? Look at Sweden, which continues to apply herd immunity to this day. A letter from 25 epidemiologists in Sweden says that the goal of the government of Sweden (and Brazil, England, USA) was never to stop the disease, but only to slow the disease so that the health system was not overburdened. This is the first premise of herd immunity as a rational strategy. So far Sweden has managed to have 10% of its population "immunized". Sweden today has more deaths per million than the USA: there are 556 deaths per million, while the United States has 425 deaths per million. 450% more deaths than other Nordic countries combined. 750% more deaths per million than all other Nordic countries combined. This is the effect of herd immunity as a strategy.

And how do you know that it is a strategy beyond the effects? The very specific recommendations and omissions of government agencies and policies. The Swedish government has refused to apply mass testing. He forced the children to go to school, even if they had symptoms of covid-19. He refused to recognize the importance of asymptomatic transmission. Refuses to recommend the use of masks in public and the consequent use of masks. The Swedish government encourages people with infected family members / housemates to go to school or workplaces. Then, due to the government's refusal to recommend policies and its weird recommendations and obligations, it is possible to perceive the design of a plan that the population is contaminated, even if this is not explicitly said - since it will rarely be explicitly said.

What is not said much in this whole discussion of herd immunity in Brazil is that in addition to the vulnerable and the poor, there will be a certain victim who risks disappearing as “collateral damage” of the “new normal”: indigenous peoples. And this process is already happening. The government is already trying to do this and I intend to demonstrate how and what is being done in the next two sections.

People who refuse to disappear

“My ancestors died for what I am facing: illegal mining and the epidemic,” says Dario Kopenawa, a Yanomami indigenous leader fighting for El País. “I am fighting for the right to live in peace, without disturbance. For the right to live, to drink clean water, for the life of the Yanomami people ”, he explains. This struggle did not start in the pandemic. In 2019, Roraima exported 195 kg of gold to India without having a mine operating legally. But during the pandemic it got worse. In the 1970s, 40,000 gold miners invaded the Yanomami lands and killed 22% of the Yanomami due to the epidemic, illegal mining, and murder.

It was not the only recent tragedy. According to Alexander L. Hinton, in Annihilating Difference: The Anthropology of Genocide, more than 80 indigenous tribes disappeared between 1900 and 1957. Of a population of more than one million, during this period, 80% had been murdered through disease or homicide.
A recent revelation by Istoé also confirms that the target never left the forehead of indigenous peoples in Brazil. A survey commissioned by the National Truth Commission (CNV) estimates that at least 8,350 Indians were killed between 1946 and 1988. In addition to direct State violence, indigenous peoples suffered from the government's failure to act.

Although it is not new, however, we are dealing with a new attempt with a scale and systematicity in the intention of exterminating that has not been seen for some time by the government, the State and Brazilian companies. That is why there is now talk of extermination and genocide. Why those two words? What are they about? Is something really intentional about these populations happening in Brazil today?

Raphael Lemkin, the author of the modern notion of genocide, says that “genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, it means much more a coordinated plan of different actions aimed at destroying the essentials essential to the life of groups, with the objective to further exterminate them ”.

And what is it to exterminate them? According to article seventh, letter B, of the Rome Statute, “'extermination' includes intentional subjection to living conditions, such as deprivation of access to food or medicines, with a view to causing the destruction of part of the population ”.

I follow here the excellent argumentation of the jurist Daisy Ventura, who has been doing a systematic work of monitoring the measures of the Bolsonaro government and has been defending him to be investigated for the crime of genocide and extermination of the population. She defends this argument with admirable consistency in this interview.

She also comments on vetoes in the policy of assistance to indigenous peoples and I think that it is fitting to reproduce what she says because it shows very clearly the government's intention to “make the disease pass” by the people with the consequences that we know what they are.

The obligation to organize medium and high complexity care in urban centers was vetoed, differentiated monitoring of cases involving indigenous people was vetoed, including the emergency offer of hospital beds and ICUs. The obligation to purchase or make available ventilators for blood oxygenation machines wasvetoed, the inclusion of indigenous peoples in emergency plans for the care of critically ill patients in the municipal and state departments was vetoed, which even required SUS to register and notify the patient. race and color declaration. With this veto, attempts are made to hinder the identification of indigenous people served by SUS. Part of the obligation to prepare informative materials on the symptoms of covid-19 in various formats and by means of community radio stations and social networks with translation and accessible language was vetoed. That was vetoed. The obligation to explain to the indigenous people the severity of the disease was forbidden! The obligation to offer internet points in the villages was vetoed to avoid having to travel to urban centers. The distribution of basic food baskets, seeds and agricultural tools to indigenous families was prohibited.

Timeline of attacks on indigenous people

During these four months of the pandemic, there were 13,801 cases and 501 deaths of indigenous people according to data from APIB (Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil). This is in a scenario of enormous underreporting. In reality, the number should be higher.

February 25th we have the first notification of the virus in Brazil. What is the first “emergency” action by the Brazilian government in relation to indigenous peoples?

We heard about it on March 6 through a demonstration in which Indians will "remember" in the Legislative Assembly of Mato Grosso do Sul to the powers that be, that cutting food baskets can cause malnutrition. The indigenous people enter the pandemic under a food aid cut action.

March 16, the first technical report from the Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health (SESAI) recommends home isolation for indigenous people who do not require hospitalization. The recommendation ignores shared houses.

March 17, Funai suspends authorization to enter indigenous lands without guaranteeing any protection from loggers and prospectors who were already within their territories. The ordinance also assigns power to the Regional Coordinations to authorize contact with isolated indigenous peoples "on a case-by-case basis" - contrary to current legislation. The concierge can be checked here.

March 19, the Contingency Plan for covid-19 prepared by SESAI reproduces Anvisa's measures. No further. Not to mention any specific needs or reality of the indigenous people for this pandemic. It does not consult the people.

March 23, a demonstration at the Nexo de Indígenas is launched, fighting against the restriction and lack of access to essential services for health care. APIB announces that it will postpone the Terra Livre Camp and the indigenous peoples have taken their own preventive measures.

March 30, SESAI Technical Report 4/2020 guides health professionals to treat respiratory syndromes without testing to prove the coronavirus. There are no protocols for health professionals who will assist indigenous people.

April 1 it is discovered that the first indigenous person with covid-19 was infected by a SESAI doctor who was returning from vacation and already had symptoms. He was an indigenous health agent. Prior quarantine for professionals was not provided for in any protocol. The news of this first case can be seen here.

April 2 Bolsonaro sanctions the law on emergency aid without policies to prevent contagion among indigenous people. According to Instituto Socio Ambiental “the result, once again, was tragic. Indigenous people went to the cities to seek the aid of R $ 600 and buy food, facing agglomerations. They returned to their villages with the virus, contaminated their elders and, therefore, many died ”.

April 3, the indigenous health secretary Robson Silva states that only indigenous villagers will be served by SESAI. This excludes 324,800 who live in cities. For indigenous organizations, everyone should be served.
On April 9, the first Yanomami youth dies. He was the third indigenous victim of coronavirus in Brazil. In the Special Indigenous Health District, 108 professionals tested positive for covid-19.

On April 22, two days after the murder of the Uru-eu-wau-wau leadership in Rondônia, Normative Instruction 9/2020 changes rules, allowing non-indigenous people to remain within indigenous lands with known limits, including negotiating real estate. The pandemic is accelerating.

April 24 it is discovered that the Houses of Support to Indigenous Health (Couples) are a source of contamination among indigenous people. Patients housed in the Casai of Manaus, in Amazonas, and in the Casai Leste, in Boa Vista, became infected with Covid-19. At Casai de Boa Vista there are still 9 health professionals confirmed with covid-19.

May 17 at least four people in Tikuna and Karitiana villages die by Covid-19 after being infected by young people who left the city to receive emergency aid. The government made no strategy to allow indigenous people to stay in their villages when it launched the benefit. Al Jazeera reports 446 cases of Covid-19 and 92 deaths among indigenous groups, as can be seen here.

May 31, the Deter system (INPE) records 2,700 hectares of deforestation on indigenous lands in the Legal Amazon - deforestation caused by invaders. A quarter of this destruction was caused by illegal miners working in that territory.

On June 6, 3 indigenous people are confirmed with covid-19 in the Javari Valley, with the presence of isolates, and more than 15 indigenous people with symptoms of the disease. The suspicion is that the disease arrived with a health system official.

June 14, COVID-19 kills the first person in Xingu territory. A baby of the Kalapalo ethnicity.

June 22 it is discovered that Funai received more than 11 million for the protection of indigenous peoples, but spent only 39% of the resources.

June 24, three Yanomami mothers complain about the disappearance of their children after their hospitalization for covid-19. The report of El País can be seen here.

June 26, 15 Ye'kwana from the Yanomami Indigenous Land with covid-19 picture. The suspicion is that it arrived in the territory through illegal miners.

July 8 Bolsonaro approves the Emergency Plan against covid-19 in indigenous lands with 16 vetoes. I have already mentioned these vetoes above.

July 17 Military women make up, give clothes and cause Yanomami to gather and Mourão suggests that indigenous people drink water from rivers

It won't be that easy

With this timeline I think it is difficult to argue that we are talking about chance, rhetorical excess. These are insistent, systematic attacks, linked together. The omission is always strategic, never a “deviation from the route”. We are talking about extermination - exposure to degrading conditions in an attempt to end the population - and attempted genocide.

Most of the indigenous peoples have already realized the government's intentionality, plan and method and have been organizing themselves from the outside to be able to resist. I give some examples.

According to Isa Radler's report, “The Rio Negro Campaign We Care for the Women's Department of the Federation of Indigenous Organizations of Rio Negro (FOIRN) added R $ 220 thousand reais and even contributed to the purchase of medical equipment for health teams. indigenous health. In one of the moments of greatest tension, in May, the teams did not have enough oximeters to go to the field ”. The instrument is essential for measuring blood oxygenation and diagnosing the severity of the Covid-19 patient. "We heard about this demand and, because we had campaign resources, we were able to provide this emergency collaboration immediately," recalled Foirn president Marivelton Barroso, of the Baré people. 12 oximeters were purchased and donated to frontline teams ”.

According to Isabel Harari and Silia Moan, “Since the first cases of contamination by Covid-19 among Kayapó indigenous people in the Xingu basin, in May this year, associations of forest peoples and their partners have joined together to prevent the disease from spreading. . Two months later, there are already at least 15 deaths and 916 cases in Protected Areas in the region.

To stop the spread of the disease, the Interinstitutional Group to Confront Covid-19 in Xingu was created. With daily meetings to align action strategies, the initiative developed the plan to confront Covid-19 at TIX, which determines how the new coronavirus will be fought.

Just arrived from a round by the villages to serve the communities, Daphne Lourenço, doctor at Dsei Xingu, reiterates the importance of dialogue to face the pandemic. “If it were not for this group acting collectively, it would all become more difficult. This is our greatest learning: learning to work together with the goal of decreasing the mortality of Covid-19 at TIX ”.

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) gave the government a 15-day deadline to develop a strategy to combat the disease in the Ianomâmi indigenous territory after pressure from indigenous movements, as can be seen better here.

These examples of organization show that it is possible to survive the government when there is a clear awareness of what it intends to do and that there is no ground to yield. We have to fight for our lives. And ally with these fighters that show creativity and a wide tactical repertoire to survive repeated attacks by the enemy.

When we talk about the acceptability of the herd immunity hypothesis, we always need to remember these examples of resistance. And that herd immunity in Brazil is what I described: a systematic attempt to exterminate indigenous peoples. The result will be genocide. There is no herd immunity with indigenous peoples living in Brazil.

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Invisible Educa...
Jul 26 2020 13:35


  • The result will be genocide. There is no herd immunity with indigenous peoples living in Brazil.

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