In addition to hunting, fishing and subsistence farming, the approximately 700 Zoró indigenous people in the northwestern part of the state of Mato Grosso make a living gathering and processing Brazil nuts, activities which generate income as well as keeping the forest standing. Collecting and marketing Brazil nuts provide autonomy and make it possible to monitor and protect the forest in their territories, preventing deforestation and contributing to mitigation of climate change. With the pandemic, the market for Brazil nuts practically disappeared, resulting in a drastic increase in the vulnerability of this ethnic group.

The 32 villages within the Zoró indigenous land were hit hard by the new coronavirus. In the third week of July, there were more than 100 infected people, about 15% of the population. The Zoró villages are approximately 150 km. to 300 km. away from the nearest emergency room in the region, located in Ji Paraná, Rondônia, in which all the beds are occupied. The Indigenous Health Center does not have capacity to treat patients with Covid-19, nor are there health professionals available to assist them.

According to the Zoró Indigenous Peoples Association, “Everyone fears the death of relatives, and the cases are already alarming”. The threat extends to the approximately 2,500 neighbors among the Gavião, Arara and Cinta Larga ethnic groups spread around Mato Grosso and Rondônia.

“The generally poor living conditions of indigenous people in the region, as in all of Brazil, make us more vulnerable”

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