Averting ethnocide: indigenous peoples and territorial rights in crisis in the face of COVID-19 in Latin America

Publication date: 22 July 2020

While the whole world attempts to save itself from the pandemic, the indigenous peoples of Latin America are dying, and some may even disappear. Abandoned by the state and with no adequate comprehensive healthcare services or clean water, they are extremely vulnerable to the virus that is fast expanding throughout the continent.

To avert ethnocide, governments in the region must respect and support the quarantine boundaries and other measures adopted by indigenous peoples to protect themselves. Governments must also prevent any extractive industry activity or activities that imply a risk of contagion in indigenous territories and surrounding areas, and urgently address health, food security and protection needs in a coordinated manner.

But to overcome the crisis also requires an end to exploitation, discrimination and historical inequalities in the provision of public resources, as well as guaranteeing respect for collective territorial rights and transforming the extractive model that is destroying the health of indigenous peoples and of the planet.