" Indigenous Family People of Brazil set by Lucca Messer" by Thierry Brouard / CC BY-SA 4.0

Missionaries gain access to Amazon’s Indigenous peoples, despite pandemic

Aug 13, 2020

By Eduardo Campos Lima

When the first COVID-19 cases hit Brazil in March, the government agency in charge of protecting the country’s Indigenous peoples, the National Indigenous Foundation, ordered all civilians to leave the Indigenous reservations. Only essential workers, such as health care personnel and those involved in food distribution, could remain.

But a new law signed by President Jair Bolsonaro on July 7 has made an exception for one group: Christian missionaries. A simple form from a doctor vouching for a faith worker’s health is enough to allow the person to stay as an essential worker.

According to Eliesio Marubo, a lawyer for the Indigenous Peoples Association of the River Javari Valley, known as UNIVAJA, some missionaries had never heeded the order to leave. “A few villages reported that there were evangelical missionaries in their areas who refused to go away,” Marubo told Religion News Service.

In April, UNIVAJA sued to force the expulsion of several evangelical missionaries, at least two of whom are U.S. citizens, from the Javari Valley, an important legal victory against a group that is closely aligned with Balsonaro.

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3 comments on “Missionaries gain access to Amazon’s Indigenous peoples, despite pandemic

  • Unforgivable.

    Unforgivable at any time – smug, ignorant, selfish, patronising, disrespectful and lethal – but during a pandemic it amounts to manslaughter. Genocide, even.

    And I can’t help thinking back to the NYT article about the white evangelicals that Vicki linked to in the Open Discussion. Back in the US, it is precisely this sort of Christian who would be bleating about their fear of being required to accommodate minorities, and advocating the principle of the majority always being right and having the right to be left in peace to do things their way without outside interference.

    And there’s another link too. You never have to prod these obsessive white evangelicals very hard to discover the far right demagogue lurking beneath the surface. There’s no shortage of authoritarian, neofascist figures in power around the world at the moment, and they’re all a scourge on humanity, but Bolsonaro is one of the very worst.


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