Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro vetoed several points of a law aimed at protecting indigenous communities against Covid-19 on Wednesday, according to the government’s Official Gazette.
He vetoed points that assured access to drinking water, free distribution of hygiene products like soap and toothpaste, cleaning and disinfection materials for indigenous communities and mandatory emergency funds for indigenous people’s health.
Parts that dealt with the emergency provision of additional hospital beds and intensive care units to indigenous people, and the acquisition of ventilators and blood oxygenation machines were also turned down.
More on this: The law establishes an emergency plan to combat the pandemic in indigenous territories and asserts that indigenous peoples and other traditional communities are considered "groups in situations of extreme vulnerability" and at high risk for public health emergencies.
The text, approved by the country’s Congress on May 21 and by the Senate on June 16, still has to go back to Congress, which will decide whether to approve presidential vetoes.
The publication of the law with Boslonaro’s vetoes takes place on the same day Supreme Court judge Luis Roberto Barroso ordered the federal government to take measures to protect indigenous communities against Covid-19.
Barroso asked for the creation of a national emergency plan, the installation of sanitary barriers and the establishment of a "Situation Room" to manage the response to the disease in indigenous territories.
For isolated and recently contacted indigenous people, the judge ordered the removal of outsiders from indigenous lands.
The action, which mandates that all indigenous people must have access to the public indigenous health system, was initiated by the Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB)
The latest numbers: According to APIB, until June 7, more than 12,000 indigenous people were infected with novel coronavirus, and at least 445 died since the beginning of the pandemic in the country. According to the Brazilian Indigenous Health service (SESAI), 3,421 indigenous people were infected and 184 died of the virus since the beginning of the pandemic.
SESAI only counts indigenous people living in indigenous territories, not urban centers.