Things That Matter

Illegal Gold Miners Killed A Tribal Leader In The Amazon And Now They’re Illegally Occupying Indigenous Lands

Dozens of gold miners have invaded a remote Indigenous reserve in the Brazilian Amazon where a local leader was stabbed to death and have taken over a village after the community fled in fear, local politicians and Indigenous leaders said. The authorities said police were on their way to investigate.

Miners killed the tribal leader and then invaded the reserve in which the tribe lived.

Credit: @HernanPorrrasM / Twitter

Several dozen heavily armed miners dressed in military fatigues invaded an Indigenous village in remote northern Brazil this week and fatally stabbed at least one of the community’s leaders, officials said Saturday. The killing comes as miners and loggers are making increasingly bold and defiant incursions into protected areas, including Indigenous territories, with the explicit encouragement of Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro.

Land invasions in indigenous territories are on the rise across Brazil, where Indigenous leaders say they regularly come under threat by miners, loggers and farmers. Yet assassinations of Indigenous leaders are rare.

Leaders of the Wajapi Indigenous community made urgent pleas to the federal government on Saturday, warning that the conflict between the miners and members of their community who live in remote villages in the northern state of Amapá risked turning into a blood bath.

“They are armed with rifles and other weapons,” Jawaruwa Waiapi, a leader of the community, said in a voice message sent to one of the state’s senators, referring to the miners. “We are in danger. You need to send the army to stop them.”

Local authorities fear a “bloodbath” if the tense situation isn’t diffused quickly.

“The garimpeiros invaded the indigenous village and are there until today. They are heavily armed, they have machine guns. That is why we asking for help from the federal police,” Kureni Waiãpi, 26, a member of the tribe, told The Guardian. He added: “If nothing is done they will start to fight.”

“We have a very tense situation,” said Beth Pelaes, mayor of Pedra Branca do Amapari, who said the tribe are very traditional and allow only authorized visitors.

Many have placed the blame for the attack on Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro.

Credit: @caio_parazzi / Twitter

A member of the opposition party, Mr. Rodrigues, said Mr. Bolsonaro’s views on Indigenous territories and the rights of native communities had put the descendants of Brazil’s original inhabitants in mortal danger.

“The president is responsible for this death,” he said in a statement.

Mr. Bolsonaro has said that Indigenous communities are in control of vast territories that should be opened up to industries to make them profitable.

Credit: @Manya_G / Twitter

Recently Bolsonaro compared Indigenous people living traditional lives on their reserves to “prehistoric men”. On Saturday he once again talked up the mineral riches in the Raposa Serra do Sol and Yanomami reserves – currently inundated with thousands of garimpeiros.

“I’m looking for the ‘first world’ to explore these areas in partnership and add value. That’s the reason for my approximation with the United States. That’s why I want a person of trust in the embassy in the USA,” Bolsonaro said on Saturday, according to the O Globo newspaper. His plans to appoint his congressman son, Eduardo, as Brazil’s US ambassador have caused an outcry in Brazil.

According to a report by The Guardian, illegal mining is causing immense damage to a forest already under siege by climate change, illegal logging, and more.

Credit: @marcgriebel / Twitter

Illegal gold mining is at epidemic proportions in the Amazon and the heavily polluting activities of garimpeiros – as miners are called – devastate forests and poison rivers with mercury.

READ: It’s Been Six Months And Brazil’s President Is On A Tear Stripping Rights Away From Every Vulnerable Community

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Brazil Just Passed a Bill That Will Allow Rich Corporations to ‘Skip the Line’ for COVID-19 Vaccines

Things That Matter

Brazil Just Passed a Bill That Will Allow Rich Corporations to ‘Skip the Line’ for COVID-19 Vaccines

Photo via Getty Images

Currently, Brazil is one of the world’s epicenters of the coronavirus. In March 2021, Brazil saw 66,573 COVID-19-related deaths. That means 1 in every 3 COVID-related deaths worldwide are occuring in Brazil.

And it doesn’t appear that the numbers will be slowing down anytime soon. While the United States is making strides in their COVID-19 vaccine distribution, Brazil is lagging far behind. And things are about to get a lot more complicated.

On Tuesday, Brazil passed a bill that would allow corporations to buy up as many vaccines as they can get their hands on, and privately distribute them to their employees first.

Elected officials in Brazil are arguing that the country has become so desperate to vaccinate its citizens, that it doesn’t matter who gets the vaccines first at this point.

The country, once renowned for having one of the most robust and efficient public vaccine-distribution programs in the world, has failed to make strides towards getting their citizens vaccinated.

“We are at war,” said the leader of the chamber, Arthur Lira. “And in war, anything goes to save lives.” We don’t know about you, but usually when it comes to war, we’ve heard that soldiers prioritize the health and safety of young, the weak, and the elderly before their own? We digress…

Brazil’s plan to privatize the vaccine rollout has brought up moral and ethical questions.

From the beginning, the World Health Organization has asked countries to first prioritize essential health workers and then high-risk populations when distributing the vaccine.

Anything other than that would promote a pay-to-play schemes in which the rich could protect their lives before poor people could. And poor people are more likely to die from COVID-19 in the first place.

As Alison Buttenheim, behavioral scientist and expert on the equitable allocation of the COVID-19 vaccine said, vaccine distribution should not “exacerbate disparities and inequities in health care,” but instead address them. Brazil’s vaccine rollout plan would fail to do any of the above.

If countries begin to allow the rich to prioritize their own interests during the vaccine rollout, the consequences could be disastrous.

In a time when the world is stoked by fear and uncertainty, the worst thing that can happen is for rich companies to exacerbate inequalities by effectively choosing who lives or dies.

As the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization said at the beginning of the global vaccine rollout: “any distribution of vaccines should advance human well-being and honor global equity, national equity, reciprocity, and legitimacy.”

Poor Brazilians should not be left to fend for themselves against COVID-19 simply because they are poor.

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After 17 Seasons “Grey’s Anatomy” Has Finally Cast Its First Indigenous Doctor

Entertainment

After 17 Seasons “Grey’s Anatomy” Has Finally Cast Its First Indigenous Doctor

Courtesy of ABC

Just when you thought “Grey’s Anatomy” had literally done every storyline in the book, they turn around and surprise you. And this time, “Grey”‘s is bringing some good news.

Now, in 2021, after 17 seasons, “Grey’s Anatomy” is finally featuring its first indigenous doctor, Dr. James Chee, played by actor Robert I Mesa.

Robert I Mesa is an actor of Navajo and Soboba descent. According to an online biography, Mesa is self-taught photographer, filmmaker and actor working in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Mesa took to Instagram to celebrate the good news about being the first indigenous doctor on “Grey’s”.

“I’m so excited and honored to be the first indigenous doctor on Grey’s Anatomy,” he wrote. “James Chee will be back on April 15, so be sure to tune in…Thank you so much To Grey’s Anatomy! I know this is going to mean so much to my indigenous peoples.” He ended the caption with “it’s a good day to be indigenous”

Although now Mesa is now on one of the biggest shows on TV, he is still a relative newcomer to showbiz and “Grey’s” will be his first major role after appearing on episode three of this season.

“Grey’s Anatomy” has always prided itself in hiring diverse actors to fill its cast.

In fact, when “Grey’s” creator Shonda Rhimes first created the show in 20–, she instructed her casting director to bring in actors of all races to audition. “The script was written with no character descriptions, no clue as to what anyone should look like,” she told Oprah in 2006.

“We read every color actor for every single part. My goal was simply to cast the best actors. I was lucky because the network said, ‘Go for it.'”

Those directions led to one of the most culturally and racially diverse casts in TV history. And it also changed the television landscape forever.

“When they had me come in to read for the role of chief of surgery, I hadn’t seen an African American in that kind of role before,” James Pickens Jr, who plays Dr. Richard Webber, said to The Hollywood Reporter.

He continued: “Shonda always wanted to make sure that the show impacted the landscape in a way that we hadn’t seen before on TV. I like to think that Grey’s had a big part in how the industry casts shows.”

“Grey’s Anatomy” has paved the way for other racially-diverse Shondaland shows like “How to Get Away With Murder”, “Scandal”, “Station 19”, and most recently, “Bridgerton.”

We’re glad that an iconic television staple like “Grey’s Anatomy” is finally expanding its diverse cast to include its first indigenous doctor.

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