Tag Archives: Community / Social Issues

Missing ‘library’: Natives of Brazil mourn the deaths of elderly people from COVID | Instant News

RIO DE JANEIRO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – In January last year, indigenous journalist Ihunovoti Terena interviewed tribal elders across Brazil at an indigenous gathering in Piaruçu, a village in Mato Grosso state.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit Brazil two months later, and began suing many indigenous leaders, he realized he had recorded some of them one last time – and that other knowledge that was not recorded or passed down was lost forever.

“Many … who were there lost their lives,” said Ihunovoti, 28.

Some 970 native Brazilians have died since the COVID-19 pandemic began last March, according to a tally by APIB, Brazil’s largest indigenous association, which represents many of the country’s 900,000 indigenous people.

At least 223 of those who died were aged 60 or older – but that figure could be higher, because the APIB cannot record the ages of most of the victims, the data show.

The deaths represent a huge cultural loss of indigenous peoples, where a lot of traditional knowledge is passed down from generation to generation in conversation, said adat representatives.

“Our elders are custodians of tradition, custodians of wisdom, advisors and holders of unique spiritual knowledge,” said Nara Baré, coordinator of COIAB, the largest umbrella group for Brazil’s Amazonian indigenous people.

“Seeing them leave is, on the one hand, witnessing another aspect of the destruction of our people.”


Partial data collected by APIB shows three indigenous communities in Brazil that have been hardest hit by the pandemic: the Terena, Kokama and Xavante. Each of them lost more than 50 members to COVID-19.

In the first months of the pandemic, Lindomar Terena saw as many as four of its citizens die on the same day. At least 58 Terenas – who live in southern Brazil – lost their lives last year.

Lindomar, who is part of the council of the Terena people, now hopes he has recorded the stories and traditions told by the lost elders.

“In some Terena villages there are … dances that our young people no longer understand,” he said.

Also missing, he says, are long-held traditional fortune-telling skills.

Some of Terena’s dead elders knew how to tell when it would rain, and how the moon’s phase affected plant growth, Lindomar said.

In a society where parents effectively act as “libraries” for knowledge and traditions, the virus has left gaping holes in shelves, he said.

“The identities of (our) people are destroyed. Our people see that our library is damaged. “

The indigenous Kokama community, in the Amazon region, lost at least 59 people to the coronavirus, APIB data shows – although Glades Kokama, one of its leaders, said the figure was close to 92.

Among the dead were elders fluent in the native language of the disappearing community, and with knowledge of traditional medicine and food, he said.

The majority of deaths from the Kokama pandemic occurred last year, before vaccinations against the virus became available.

In Brazil, indigenous peoples living in nature reserves are now listed as priority vaccinations, and many communities are already immunized.

Some, however, reject vaccines – and the elderly can be among those most strongly against it, Glades said.

“Some (elders) believe in the vaccine, but some don’t. We try to explain it to them, but we have to respect the elders, “he said.

The refusal to be vaccinated is speeding up efforts to try to log their knowledge and insights, in case the worst happens, Glades said.

“We have to write everything down, because we are at risk.”


Crisanto Rudz Tseremey’wa, president of Fepoimt – a federation of indigenous peoples in Mato Grosso – and a representative of the Xavante tribe, said 68 in his indigenous community had died, including his parents.

The older son is studying in Brasilia, and when the boy returns home, he should be taught the traditions of the nation by the elders in the family.

Now Tseremey’wa is the only one left to do so.

“I was with my son, who said that this was an irreparable loss,” said Tseremey’wa. “This pandemic is not about numbers (who died), it’s about family. It’s about ancient knowledge. “

In some places, the deaths of elders due to COVID-19 have accelerated ongoing efforts by indigenous youth to record more of the community’s wisdom, traditions and history to try to prevent its loss.

Some of Terena’s youth, for example, have made video and audio recordings of the history and culture of their communities after fires that previously destroyed written records, Ihunovoti said.

Now they are increasing their efforts.

“If the community starts promoting this, the videotape… will be there forever. Not only in memory, but digitally, ”he said.

Reported by Fabio Teixeira @ffctt; Edited by Laurie Goering. Please acknowledge the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the Thomson Reuters charity, covering the lives of people around the world who struggle to live free or fair. Visit news.trust.org


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UPDATE 1-Telefonica is in exclusive talks with investors for the Brazilian fiber unit | Instant News

(Write with COO comments)

MADRID, February 25 (Reuters) – Telefonica is in exclusive talks with financial investors about setting up a joint fiber optic venture in Brazil, Chief Operating Officer Angel Vila said Thursday.

The Spanish telecommunications group plans to expand high-speed fiber-optic coverage to more cities in Brazil, following a similar project launched in Germany in partnership with insurance company Allianz.

“Brazil is the size of a continent. Our capital expenditure (capex) will not reach everything, “Vila told Reuters.

After speaking with many potential partners, the company has held exclusive talks with “international operators with a financial and infrastructure profile”, said Vila, declining to name investors.

Talks have progressed, he added, but “in this situation you can never say 100% that you will sign.”

Previously Vila told analysts that the second phase of development could be done through agreements with fiber owners such as the American Tower.

Telefonica is already using the infrastructure of larger US companies in the Brazilian states of Minas Gerais and Vila said they “may be interested in consolidating” the agreement.

Vila said she could not confirm a Bloomberg News report that exclusive talks were held with Canadian pension fund Caisse de depot el placement du Quebec (CDPQ), due to a confidentiality agreement.

“CDPQ is a top class long-term global investor, that would be very attractive,” he added.

American Tower did not immediately respond to a request for comment. CDPQ could not be reached immediately.

Telefonica plans to hold half of the business through Telefonica and its local branch Telefonica Brasil.

Vila told analysts by conference call that it could expand the unit later through acquisitions.

Telefonica cut its dividend after reporting a 10% drop in previous 2020 earnings on Thursday, although it expects business to stabilize this year. (Reporting by Isla Binnie, Eid by Inti Landauro, Kirsten Donovan)


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Britain downgraded its COVID-19 alert status as pressure on hospitals eased | Instant News

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s chief medical officer lowered its COVID-19 alert level on Thursday, citing a gradual drop in pressure on healthcare.

“Following the advice of the Joint Biosecurity Center and based on the latest data, the four British Chief Medical Officers and the UK NHS National Medical Director agree that the UK’s level of alertness should move from level 5 to level 4 in all four countries,” the UK health ministry said in a statement.

Public health services in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland operate separately in most cases.

“Health services in four countries remain under significant stress with high patient numbers in hospitals, but thanks to community efforts we are now seeing numbers continue to decline,” added the medic.

Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken


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Germany bans Salafi Muslim groups | Instant News

BERLIN, February 25 (Reuters) – German authorities carried out raids at several locations in Berlin and Brandenburg on Thursday after banning Berlin’s Salafi Muslim group, police said.

Berlin’s senate interior department on Thursday said it had banned the “jihad-salafi” association Jama’atu Berlin, also known as the Berlin Tauhid, and that police had carried out the raid, without providing further details.

The German newspaper Tagesspiegel said the group glorified the battle for “Islamic State” on the internet and called for the killing of Jews, adding that criminal proceedings were awaiting decisions against some of its members.

The newspaper added that the group had been in contact with Anis Amri, a Tunisian asylum seeker who failed with Islamic ties, who hijacked a truck and took it to a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people in 2016.

Salafis – strict Sunni Muslims – include peaceful private individuals, activists seeking to implement Sharia law, and militants who advocate violence to establish a state they perceive to represent true Islam.

The number of Salafis has risen in Germany to an all-time high of 12,150 in 2019, Germany’s domestic intelligence said in its annual report last year, listing them among “Islamic extremists”.

It said the number of Salafis has more than tripled since 2011 and that Salafi groups in Germany are going through a consolidation stage, adding that followers remain a low profile in public. (Reporting by Riham Alkousaa; editing by Philippa Fletcher)


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Brazil is approaching 250,000 deaths from COVID-19 | Instant News

BRASILIA, February 24 (Reuters) – Brazil has 66,588 new cases of the new coronavirus reported in the past 24 hours, and 1,428 deaths from COVID-19, the highest daily toll since January 7, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

The South American country has now recorded 10,324,463 cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 249,957, according to ministry data, in the third worst outbreak in the world outside the United States and India and the second deadliest.

Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Edited by Leslie Adler


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