In the absence of official data, indigenous organizations in Peru have begun to make their own counts of those infected and deceased by COVID-19, which continues to advance among the native communities that settle on the banks of the rivers of the Peruvian Amazon. .
Despite the fact that the Amazon occupies more than 60% of the territory of Peru and that 30% of the Peruvian population identified itself as indigenous in the last census carried out in 2017, the daily bulletins issued by the Ministry of Health do not specify the ethnic origin of victims of the coronavirus.
Official figures report almost 124,000 infected and at least 3,629 deaths from the SARS-CoV-2 virus nationwide, making Peru the second country with the most cases of COVID-19 in Latin America and the twelfth in the world.
These data are also disaggregated daily by region and recently even by district, but they still do not detail how many of them are indigenous, while other Amazonian countries such as Brazil do have a more detailed record of indigenous people affected by the coronavirus.
At the request of indigenous organizations, the national government asked regional governments to include the ethnic variable in their records, but so far it has not occurred.
LACK OF EVIDENCE
Thus, the Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the East (ORPIO) of Peru, which groups native communities of Loreto, one of the regions most affected by the pandemic, reported on Monday to 218 indigenous people with COVID-19, of whom two have deceased, although there are five other suspicious deaths.
The deaths are located in indigenous people of the Ticuna ethnic group of the community of Bellavista-Callarú, on the triple border of Peru with Brazil and Colombia, but the lack of discard evidence of COVID-19 makes it impossible to determine the cause of these five deaths.
In that report there are not the 600 suspected cases reported by Emerson Mucushua, the head of the Pucacuro community, of the Achuar ethnic group, where 90% of the population apparently shows symptoms of COVID-19 after a procession of local authorities, among the one that had several infected officials, distributed food in the area.
Last week, the conservation association Pro Purús released a map with the affected indigenous communities in the Ucayali region, where the health system has also begun to collapse, as happened in Loreto.
In its registry, Pro Purús added up to last weekend 14 deceased indigenous people, 46 confirmed cases and more than 2,000 suspected cases of COVID-19.
However, the Shipibo-Konibo and Xetebo (Coshikox) Council claims that there are 58 suspicious deaths of COVID-19 among Shipibos, the largest indigenous people in Ucayali.
Among the deceased Shipibos is the case of Silvio Vallés, mayor of the municipality of Masisea, in Ucayali, who died after suddenly worsening and having difficulties finding a bed in the hospitals of Pucallpa, capital of Ucayali.
Another affected Shipibo leader is Lizardo Cauper, president of the Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Jungle (Aidesep), the largest indigenous organization in Peru; as well as the asháninka Berlin Dikes, president of the regional branch of this federation in Ucayali.
In none of these records of indigenous organizations are the nearly 500 confirmed cases in Shipibo of the urban community of Cantagallo, formed by some 250 families who for 20 years settled in the heart of Lima, on the banks of the Rímac River, after emigrate from Ucayali.
THOUSANDS OF COMMUNITIES AT RISK
The southern area of the Peruvian Amazon seems at the moment more safe from the coronavirus, but at the beginning of the month the Harakbut, Yine and Machiguenga (Coharyima) Council reported 17 cases in the community of Santa Teresita, of Yine ethnic group.
In the first case in the Manu province, in the Madre de Dios region, the Hakbut ethnic community of Shintuya blocked the road that crosses their territory, which has led to a prosecutor ordering them to reopen it with a warning to report them. for extortion.
In total, more than a thousand indigenous communities are at risk of contagion from coronavirus after cases have been registered in their districts, according to official information analyzed by the environmental NGO Copperacción in the twelve Amazon regions of Peru.
“The penetration of the pandemic into the interior of the territories is undeniable,” concluded Copperacción, who has been able to verify how the number of cases has multiplied by three since last April to register 5,526 patients.
The number of deceased according to this count would have multiplied up to 26 times and reach 1,316 deaths.
Given this scenario, indigenous communities are framed as very vulnerable populations in the face of the pandemic, since most do not have basic services such as drinking water and only a few have a health post, supplied with a few medicines for minor ailments.
In case of requiring a hospital, the inhabitants of the native communities must navigate intricate jungle rivers, sometimes for several days, in order to reach a city.
Given the constant claims of indigenous organizations, the Government of Peru issued a decree aimed at containing the disease in native communities almost two months after the quarantine began, but its content did not content these populations as it was a reiteration of public policies. already known.