#ForaGarimpoForaCovid: Amazon Tribes Launch Call for Solidarity

From the Editors: The Yanomani and Ye’kwana are indigenous people living in the Roraima e Amazonas states, in the northeastern region of the Amazon under control of the Brazilian government. Under the umbrella of the Fórum de Lideranças Yanomami e Ye’kwana [Yanomami and Ye’kwana Leadership Forum], they have launched a campaign #ForaGarimpoForaCovid and are asking for solidarity in the invasion of their territories by “garimperos” or gold miners who are placing their communities at risk of COVID-19. The Fórum de Lideranças Yanomami e Ye’kwana came about in December 2019 through a convening of “120 leaders from 53 communities, from 26 regions inside a territory of 9 millon hectares,” according to the Instituto Socioambiental. We reproduce below a full translation of their call today. Bolsonaro’s government has held a colonialist, imperialist campaign against indigenous people since his election to the presidency. According to Instituto Socioambiental, the Yanomani suffered great losses in the 1970s and 1980s, when the government pushed for an expansion into their territories, building roads that brought in miners and caused the death of 13% of their population. Their petition, which so far has over 250K signatures, is part of wider media and advocacy campaign.

SOURCE: #ForaGarimpoForaCovid, June 2, 2020

Photo: Mine in Mucajaí river, May 2020, Chico Batata, Greenpeace

Hear the Yanomami Message

The #ForaGarimpoForaCovid campaign is an initiative of the Yanomami and Ye’kwana Leadership Forum and the Hutukara Yanomami Association (HAY), Wanasseduume Ye’kwana Association (SEDUUME), Yanomami Kumirayoma Women’s Association (AMYK), Texoli Ninima State Association (TANER), Yanomami Association of Rio Cauaburis and Affluents (AYRCA).

Communities in the Yanomami Indigenous Land are seriously threatened! In the past, we lost many of our family members to diseases brought by non-indigenous people, and today we still suffer from these losses. We don’t want more diseases, threatening the lives of our relatives.

Today, we are once again at risk of Xawara (epidemic) brought by non-indigenous people, or Coronavirus, as they call it. Our communities are very far from cities and are already suffering from the increase of malaria cases, without enough healthcare to care for our sick family members. We don’t want this situation to get any worse, with the arrival of the Coronavirus.

We urgently need to prevent more diseases from spreading among us. Gold miners come in and out of our lands in search of gold, without any control. They circulate among our communities without any health prevention; it is only a matter of time before the Coronavirus Xawara spreads among us. We are also concerned about the Moxihatëtëa, groups of indigenous people in voluntary isolation, who do not know about the Xawara that non-indigenous people bring.

It is necessary to prevent this invasion from causing yet another tragedy. We need to protect the lives of the Yanomami and Ye’kwana! The Yanomami Indigenous Land Leadership Forum has already decided that we want to live without gold mining, we want to live with our health. You have to act before it’s too late. Join us to prevent our families from being contaminated by the Coronavirus by demanding that the authorities of the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Health take urgent measures. Together with other government agencies, they should take coordinated action and with appropriate technical health precautions in order to promote the total “disintrusion” of the miners who are still in our lands.


WATCH ONLINE FORUM [in Portuguese]:

Participants: Top left: Alcida Ramos (researcher), Leao Serva (journalist), Antonio Ovideo (researcher, ISA). Bottom left: Dario Kopenawa, Marcos Wesley (Rio Negro Program, ISA).

From Instituto Socioambiental: “Dário Kopenawa is in Boa Vista (RR), far from his community, to guarantee the defense of his people and the territory. From the village, his father Davi Kopenawa and other shamans are watching over his health and fighting Xawara through shamanism. Dário contracted Covid-19, but managed to recover. Now, restored, he will take the Yanomami’s voice and cry for help to the world. To increase the direct dialogue with the authorities and opinion leaders, the young leadership opened his profile on Twitter, and should use it to inform his followers about the pandemic’s progress in the Yanomami Land and to mobilize supporters for the campaign.”

#ForaGarimpoForaCovid is a campaign led by the Fórum de Lideranças Yanomami e Ye’kwana e da Hutukara Associação Yanomami (HAY), Associação Wanasseduume Ye’kwana (SEDUUME), Associação das Mulheres Yanomami Kumirayoma (AMYK), Texoli Associação Ninam do Estado de Roraima (TANER), Associação Yanomami do Rio Cauaburis e Afluentes (AYRCA).


The Instituto Socioambiental (ISA) is a non-profit organization of the Brazilian civil society, founded in 1994, to propose integrated solutions to social and environmental issues with a central focus on the defense of social, collective, and diffuse goods and rights related to the environment, cultural heritage, human and communal rights.