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Assessing the Impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous Peoples in Latin America: Towards Effective Post-Pandemic Policies
Georgetown Journal of International Affairs ; 23(2):169-178, 2022.
Article in English | ProQuest Central | ID: covidwho-2318536
[...]a broad and inclusive approach to post-pandemic policy-making—one that considers Indigenous forms of knowledge whilst fostering appreciation for their cultures and lives—is needed to adequately assist Indigenous peoples in repairing the harm they have suffered as a result of COVID-19.3 COVID-19 and its deadly impact on Indigenous communities There are no less than eight hundred distinct Indigenous communities across Latin America, each with its own unique identity, culture, and [End Page 169] history. In Bolivia, for example, where Indigenous groups comprise a significant portion of the electorate (between 41 and 62 percent of the population), Latin America's first Indigenous political executive was elected in 2006.4 In most instances, however, Indigenous peoples make up only a small proportion of Latin American country populations (generally ranging from 0.5–15 percent), one factor ensuring limited political influence and the widespread marginalization of their interests.5 As a consequence, Indigenous peoples across the region entered the pandemic whilst already suffering from a range of serious economic and socio-cultural inequalities.6 Inadequate access to medical care, chronic poverty and economic marginalization, racism and prejudice, and inadequate access to education are common issues that exacerbated the impact of the pandemic.7 The World Health Organization confirmed the arrival of the pandemic in the region on February 26, 2020. [...]Indigenous mortality rates were 4.03 percent in Brazil and 19.9 percent in Mexico—significantly higher than 2.2 percent and 5.7 percent overall mortality rates in each country respectively.9 Unfortunately, the lack of regional data on, and deliberate under-reporting of, Indigenous mortality rates across much of Latin America has problematized many of the available datasets.10 In Brazil, for example, organizations such as The Articulation of Indigenous Peoples (APIB), have shown that the total number of recognized Indigenous deaths (902 persons as of April 7, 2022), undercounts the actual figure by at least 31 percent.11 Other sources, such as the Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health (SESAI), which is responsible for Indigenous medical care, also provides incomplete data on Brazilian Indigenous mortality by failing to count Indigenous urban dwellers or those who live outside of recognized government-controlled territories in their data sets.12 Such groups are among some of the most vulnerable Indigenous communities in the country, receiving little, if any, support from government agencies charged with supporting Indigenous communities.13 As a result, the scale and scope of COVID-19's impact on Indigenous Brazilians is, and for the foreseeable future will likely remain, unknowable.14 Despite a lack of adequate data across much of Latin America, a growing body of evidence indicates that Indigenous peoples were particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, and that they likely died or suffered long-term health issues in disproportionate numbers.15 In a study of Indigenous peoples in Chile, for instance, regions with larger Indigenous populations recorded a noticeable increase in overall mortality.16 Where direct data do not exist, emerging studies suggest that the medical impact of COVID-19 was likely compounded by a range of structural inequalities and environmental factors.17 Many Indigenous peoples lack access to adequate medical care. [...]disproportionate exposure to pesticides—used extensively in agricultural industries in which many Indigenous people find employment, as well as exposure to smoke inhalation—caused by out-of-control forest fires across Latin America—likely exacerbated the repertory symptoms caused by COVID-19.18 As a consequence, Indigenous peoples had to face COVID-19 not only with fewer resources, but with greater exposure to the types of pre-existing conditions known to aggravate the impact of the disease.19 Particularly high mortality rates among Indigenous elders, who act as stores of traditional knowledge, affected cultural continuity and community cohesion.20 To better understand this we spoke with a representative of the Indigenous Kaingang people, Duko Vãgfy, who explained that "[t]he worst losses [we suffered] were the elders, because they held so much knowledge about [our] people.

Full text: Available Collection: Databases of international organizations Database: ProQuest Central Type of study: Experimental Studies Language: English Journal: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs Year: 2022 Document Type: Article





Full text: Available Collection: Databases of international organizations Database: ProQuest Central Type of study: Experimental Studies Language: English Journal: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs Year: 2022 Document Type: Article