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30 March, 2020

Coronavirus in Peru: New measures and demands in the interest of Indigenous Peoples

Report of CHIRAPAQ on the situation of indigenous peoples in the Coronavirus health emergency.

Foto: Municipalidad Distrital de Palcazú

On the health emergency in Peru, CHIRAPAQ reports its impact on indigenous peoples and the new measures adopted by the Peruvian Government to keep fighting this pandemic.

  1.  The State of Emergency has been extended for 13 calendar days and is compulsory until Sunday, April 12.
  2.  Making a record of people detained in hours of social immobilization, so it can be handed over to the Office of the Public Prosecutor and legal procedures are duly initiated.
  3.  Extraordinary call for the army reserve: graduates of 2018-2019-2020 (10 thousand people) to enhance patrolling and control of the Armed Forces.
  4.  Allocation of approximately S/. 200 million soles to 1874 local governments (by province and district) so that they can buy and distribute basic foodstuff (basic food basket) to families in need.
  5.  Considering independent workers (around 800,000 families) as beneficiaries of a S/. 380 soles cash transfer (an allocation of around S/. 300 million soles).
  6.  Allowing the withdrawal of up to S/. 2,400 soles of the workers’ Term of Service Compensation Deposit (CTS).
  7.  Temporarily and exceptionally suspending contributions to pension funds in April, making this amount available to workers.
  8.  A 35 % payroll subsidy to companies in favor of workers with a salary of up to S/. 1,500 soles. Around S/.600 million soles will be allocated to that.

 

On the other hand, indigenous organizations, non for profit associations and government authorities have expressed their concern about the situation of indigenous peoples, as well as demands and alternatives to protect them. Some of the initiatives include:

National Level

– The Office of the Ombudsman asked the Executive to strengthen protection and prevention measures in the regions that have a great presence of indigenous population to prevent Coronavirus (COVID-19) from reaching the communities. This demand is due to the increase in confirmed cases in the regions with indigenous population, such as Loreto, Junín and Arequipa.

– The National Coordinator for Human Rights (CNDDHH), from the National Platform of Peoples Affected by Toxic Metals and the National Round-table of Environmental and Human Health, an articulation of different social organizations, associations of people affected by metals, defense fronts, indigenous federations, peasant communities, civil society groups and institutions, has urged the government not to forget the families in poverty and extreme poverty areas that are located near mining and oil companies and have had problems of contamination. They argue that this activity has affected their health and it is imperative that they are included in the S/.380 subsidy. Also, they must be ensured access to hazard-free water and food.

– The government has launched all the necessary information to avoid infection by COVID-19, as well as instructions to handle and sanitize objects in 16 indigenous languages such as quechua, shipibo-konibo, aimara, awajun, among others.

– Leila Salazar-López, the executive director of Amazon Watch, has warned that COVID-19 “can have a devastating impact on indigenous peoples, especially on those living in voluntary isolation” in the Amazonian region. Likewise, she has asked to consider avoiding the entry of foreigners, coming for mining, logging, oil extraction and exploration, industrial agriculture and even evangelical missions, in indigenous territories.

– The Shipibo-Konibo community in Cantagallo, Lima, has asked for help from the authorities in the context of the emergency situation, as they have not been included as the S/.380 subsidy recipients, and they lack water service and other needs. In answer to this call, the Ministry of Housing, Construction and Sanitation (MVCS), through Sedapal, has made available to the community a tanker truck of a 12-thousand-liter capacity to permanently (daily) bring them drinking water during the State of Emergency declared due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

– In order to protect Vilcas Huamán province from a possible spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), last March 20, the Vilcas Huamán town hall closed the borders with Cangallo and Vischongo in Chiribamba. This is part of the additional measures that this and other local governments are taking to safeguard their population.

– The Central Board of Native Communities of the Central Amazon (Ceconsec) issued a statement addressed to President Martin Vizcarra asking him to include native communities from this area in the S/. 380 subsidy recipients. Additionally, it informed the President of the difficulties they are having to buy and sell their products, as well as the lack of sanitary prevention measures such as face masks and how precarious the health system is in the area.

– Through Ministerial Resolution N° 109-2020-MC published today, March 27 of 2020, in El Peruano newspaper, the Ministry of Culture has been charged to carry on the following actions in this health emergency:

* Keep national and regional indigenous organizations informed on extraordinary measures adopted by the Government.

* Coordinate with government institutions so that the prevention and addressing measures regarding the COVID-19 outbreak which are adopted and implemented have cultural and linguistic adequacy.

* Identify and translate priority information issued by the Government related to the prevention and addressing measures in indigenous languages.

* Facilitate remote interpretation of indigenous languages in health care centers that need it.

* Make the Official Database on Indigenous Peoples (ODIP) available to public and private institutions, as well as people in general, through its website (bdpi.cultura.gob.pe) to provide official sociodemographic, geographic and qualitative information on indigenous peoples.

– Regarding indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation and initial contact, entry to Indigenous and Territorial Reservation has been suspended with the purpose of preventing, containing and mitigating the spread of the COVID-19 among indigenous peoples.

International Level

 – The International Indigenous Women’s Forum together with indigenous women regional networks, the Continental Network of Indigenous Women of the Americas (ECMIA), the Alliance of Indigenous Women of Central America and Mexico (AMICAM), the Asian Indigenous Women’s Network (AIWN) and the African Indigenous Women’s Organization (AIWO), issued a statement yesterday, March 26, making a call to unity. Also, they mentioned an increase of disadvantages that impact indigenous women in this pandemic. Beyond that, they demanded authorities to ensure equal access to health care and sources of clean water, to acknowledge the leadership of indigenous authorities and its forms of organization, to use indigenous languages in communities, to create programs and strategies to support the economies of the communities, among others.

In CHIRAPAQ, we will keep monitoring and following-up on government institutions relevant to the needs of indigenous peoples. Also, we will be in constant contact with our allies in different regions and we will inform any violation of indigenous peoples’ rights that could occur during this health crisis.

(Eng) Report on the Coronavirus Emergency in Perú 27.03

Download here.

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