Indigenous activist Tarcila Rivera Zea called for citizen responsibility to comply with the new restrictions imposed by the Peruvian government with the purpose of stopping the advance of the coronavirus pandemic. “We share their fear and frustration, but these measures are necessary, given the increase in deaths and the collapse of the healthcare system,” she explained.
The president of the indigenous association CHIRAPAQ, made this exhortation due to calls in social media for civil disobedience and social mobilization this Sunday against what its promoters call a “health dictatorship.” “We should consider that along with people concerned about their family finances there are also powerful groups that take advantage of the people’s fear to destabilize us,” she said.
Rivera Zea, indigenous peoples’ defender, requested specific measures to support Andean and Amazonian peoples due to their particular situation of vulnerability “and the enormous deficiencies and lack of care suffered in the previous quarantine.”
In the last two weeks, five brothers from the Awajun People’s Supayaku community, province of San Ignacio, Cajamarca, including indigenous leaders and wise men, died from Covid-19. “The lack of medicines, protective materials, disinfection equipment, bilingual medical personnel, are the recurring deficiencies that they must face,” she declared.
The indigenous activist recommended to the Peruvian State “greater communication in indigenous languages and with an appropriate language, to inform our population about the new immobilization provisions, as well as the recommendations to treat infected people at home, the dangers of self-medication «.
Likewise, the leader recommended promoting the purchase of products from indigenous communities. “Itinerant markets are an excellent opportunity to provide our producers with a form of self-sustenance that helps them generate income and ensure a livelihood for their families during the quarantine.” Rivera Zea asked the Ministry of Agriculture to evaluate a subsidy to transport these products from the field to the markets.
CHIRAPAQ has also expressed its concern over the increase in sexual violence suffered by indigenous girls, young women and women during extended confinements. We hope that the Ministry of Women will now work on a contingency plan to prevent it during the quarantine.
Rivera Zea recalled that indigenous peoples do not only live in their villages and communities of origin, but that hundreds of thousands live in the district and provincial capital cities, as well as in Lima. “Last year we shared the call for help of young indigenous university students who were trapped in Iquitos without the means to feed themselves and without equipment and connectivity to attend virtual classes. We await a statement from the Ministry of Education assuring that it will guarantee their well-being in this time of confinement”, she said.
Rivera Zea concluded by warning that if indigenous peoples’ health and economy are not ensured in the face of this new quarantine, “the poverty and exclusion gaps between our peoples and mainstream society will only increase.”