New York (May 5, 2020)—Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, in collaboration with renowned author and journalist Alan Friedman, have published a powerful interview with Sebastião Salgado on COVID-19's impact in Brazil, particularly what the pandemic could mean for the already vulnerable indigenous communities in the Amazon.
Salgado, an acclaimed Brazilian photojournalist, has spent decades documenting the plight of the poor around the world, most recently turning his attention to the Amazon. He frames the crisis as an urgent human rights threat that could lead to "total genocide" of the local indigenous people and has rallied together an international coalition, including Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, to join him in pressuring Brazil to properly protect the indigenous population.
In the interview, Salgado specifically calls for economic sanctions against Brazil, citing how President Jair Bolsonaro’s constant upheavals—from weakening protections for indigenous tribes to allowing an influx of mining, logging, and oil drilling in the Amazon—have put this community at increased risk of exposure and harm during the coronavirus crisis.
“Even before the pandemic, the indigenous people of Brazil faced such enormous threats to their very survival, including having to resist the voracious greed of mining companies and illegal loggers that are destroying their ancestral lands. The coronavirus has only heightened the vulnerability of their situation,” said Angelita Baeyens, director of international advocacy and litigation at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “We’ve seen this time and time again, not just in Latin America but around the world, and we cannot stand idle as governments continually fail to provide the protection and dignity their indigenous peoples deserve, particularly when their ancestral land rights are involved.”
“Thank you to my friends and fellow human rights defenders, Sebastião Salgado and Alan Friedman, for highlighting the urgent need to protect the indigenous people of Brazil from COVID-19,” said Kerry Kennedy, president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “We must always stand up for the most vulnerable, especially during a global crisis, and we here at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights are proud to partner with you on this effort.”
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights We are a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that has worked to realize Robert F. Kennedy’s dream of a more just and peaceful world since 1968. In partnership with local activists, we advocate for key human rights issues, pursuing strategic litigation at home and around the world. And to ensure change that lasts, we foster a social-good approach to business and investment and educate millions of students about human rights and social justice.