A Brazilian federal judge has ordered protesters to clear the main route for exporting grains from Mato Grosso state to northern ports.
Members of the Kayapó Indigenous tribe have blocked the BR-163 highway in protest against the government measures in the indigenous lands to avoid the spread of the coronavirus disease.
“The recommendation is that trucks wait in Matupá and Guarantã do Norte until the situation is resolved,” said Leonardo Ramos, chief of police in the town of Sorriso, adding that traffic was backed up Monday morning for approximately 3 km on the key grains transport route due to the protests.
The tribe condemns authorities for the deaths of four of their elders and infections of dozens more on their land in southern Para state. They say that outsiders have spread COVID-19 among their community, and want them to stay off their land.
“Health care here is precarious,” said Doto Takak-Ire, a Kayapo Mekragnotire leader via ABC News. “There are not enough health care workers to handle the situation. We need urgent support in the middle of the pandemic. We need more personal hygiene supplies, more masks. If the government had done its job, we wouldn’t be here in the middle of the pandemic.”
The Kayapó people of South America have been fighting against the modernization of their consecrated lands for years. Their Indigenous land has been subjected to an invasion of miners, rubber tappers, loggers, ranchers and missionaries, almost all without the tribe’s permission.
“I’m very worried,” the tribe’s chief Megaron Ti said back in 2014. “I am worried about the deforestation and dam construction that could destroy our way of life. I’m also very concerned that politicians in Brazil are saying that they want to reduce already demarcated indigenous lands.”
Bei Kayapo, an Indigenous leader, said the four elders’ deaths were especially hard on their community.
“They are our history, our museums,” he said. “They have all the stories of our people.”