|Yanomami woman. The Yanomami are celebrating the appointment of a health coordinator for their communities |
© Fiona Watson/Survival
Yanomami and Yekuana Indians in the Brazilian Amazon are celebrating the appointment of a health coordinator for their communities, following weeks of protests.
The Indians had been outraged by the nomination of another health coordinator who had little experience with indigenous peoples, who they did not trust, and who they feared had been nominated for political reasons.
They are relieved that their preferred candidate for the job, who has worked closely with the Yanomami for years, has been appointed.
Yanomami shaman and spokesman Davi Kopenawa said, ‘The Yanomami and Yekuana peoples will no longer accept political interference in actions carried out in the Yanomami territory, without being consulted and their voices heard. The authorities must respect the indigenous peoples of Brazil’.
Another Yanomami spokesman added, ‘Now we Yanomami are very happy in our fight for our rights’.
Earlier this month, the Indians seized an airplane used by health workers in the Yanomami territory, as part of their protests against the corruption in the health system.
The Yanomami sent letters to the Brazilian authorities and the United Nations, urging them to take action on this serious issue. Survival also wrote to the government and to the UN, and petitioned the Health Minister, Alexandre Padilha, to listen to the Indians.
Yanomami and Yekuana health is suffering as thousands of goldminers are operating illegally on their land, polluting their rivers and transmitting diseases.
Yanomami have reported having seen signs of uncontacted Yanomami living in the area. The uncontacted Indians are particularly vulnerable as they have little resistance to outside diseases, which could prove fatal for them.