Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado has launched a petition to save the indigenous peoples of the Amazon who are at a risk from the Coronavirus pandemic.
In an open letter to Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, Salgado along with a global coalition of artists, celebrities, scientists and intellectuals have warned the Brazilian government that one million indigenous people are at “the risk of genocide” if the novel Coronavirus reaches their communities unless urgent measures are taken to protect them. The Amazon is the ancestral home of these Indians who are divided into about 400 tribes, each with its own language, culture, and territory.
Salgado, who has worked among Amazon tribes for the past ten years, and his wife Lelia Wanick Salgado, who designs his books and exhibitions, are appealing to Brazil’s governmental, congressional and judicial authorities to act quickly to avert contagion of these remote communities by infected outsiders (miners, loggers and cattle ranchers).
‘ The indigenous peoples of Brazil face an extreme threat to their very survival because of the coronavirus pandemic. Five centuries ago, these ethnic groups were decimated by diseases brought by European colonizers. Since then, successive epidemiological crises have killed the majority of their populations. Now, with this new scourge spreading rapidly across Brazil, indigenous peoples, such as those who live isolated in the Amazon Basin, could be wiped out altogether since they have no defense against Covid-19,’ the letter said.
‘These indigenous peoples are part of the extraordinary history of our species. Their disappearance would be an utmost tragedy for Brazil and an immense loss for humanity. There is no time to lose,‘ writes Salgado.
In addition to Gisele Bundchen and Naomi Campbell, the petition has been signed by Richard Gere, Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep, Paul McCartney, Glenn Close, Madonna, Pedro Almodovar, Caetano Veloso, author Mario Vargas Llosa, artist Ai Weiwei, and architect Norman Foster.
The appeal can be signed at this link