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Indigenous People In Brazil Denounce That Illegal Miners Buy Vaccines For Gold

An association representing the Yanomami indigenous people in Brazil denounced on Tuesday the alleged sale of doses of the coronavirus vaccine destined for native peoples for “garimpeiros” (artisanal miners) who act illegally on indigenous lands in exchange for gold .

In a statement, the Hutukara Yanomami Association affirmed that, since the beginning of vaccination in the country, “reports of irregularities that put the immunization of the indigenous population at risk ” have accumulated , which is among the priority groups in the immunization process., started last January.

“According to indigenous leaders, doses of vaccine are being sold to garimpeiros in exchange for gold. The invaders are also accused of spreading false news about vaccination,” the entity said in the note.

In a letter sent to the authorities of the country, the vice president of the Association, Dario Kopenawa, explained that cases of exchange of vaccines for gold were registered in various places in the Yanomami Land, located in the Amazonian states of Roraima and Amazonas, as well as diversion of resources, medicines, gasoline, energy and other materials for indigenous health care.

“This information is true, reviewed by the leaderships of these locals. In these regions, it is very common to exchange materials for gold, as remedies, and unfortunately, sometimes professionals get carried away,” said Kopenawa.

The Yanomami Land is the largest indigenous reserve in Brazil in extension and shelters more than 26,000 aborigines, of which, according to the Association, 12,253 are suitable to receive the antigen against covid-19, which already leaves more than 355,000 dead throughout the country. Of these, 8,721 (69.7%) received the first vaccine application, while 5,415 (43%) were inoculated with the second.

Likewise, amid the “delays” and “failures” in the vaccination process against covid-19, the Hutukara Yanomami Association also denounced that the Roraima authorities “press for part of the exclusive doses of indigenous people to be diverted to non-indigenous (people) “. “We repudiate that kind of initiative that threatens to abandon the Yanomami without vaccination due to structural failures in indigenous health care,” the entity stressed.

Indigenous leaders also accuse the illegal miners of spreading false news about the vaccination , leading 9 of the more than 300 villages to reject the application of the immunizers. “‘You, Yanomami, cannot receive these vaccines because the government wants to kill you.’ This is what the garimpeiros say and, therefore, our relatives are rejecting the vaccines,” Kopenawa explained.

Given the rejection of some communities for the vaccination, the Municipal Health Council of Boa Vista, regional capital of Roraima, came to recommend a week ago that the excess doses destined for indigenous people be redistributed to the urban population of the city, This generated harsh criticism from indigenous organizations and leaders in the country.

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