1. Introduce yourself and say a little about your people and your village
I am Paulo Henrique, of the Karão Jaguaribaras. I am 15. I am an Indigenous militant and live in Kalembre Feijão, on the border between Aratuba and Canindé. Speaking a little bit about my people, the Karão Jaguaribaras were great protagonists in the fight against colonization, in what is now part of Ceará State. My people were declared extinct many times. The Jaguaribaras nation always combined many clans, among them the clans that always lived in the Serra de Ubatryté (today known as Maciço de Baturité) and to the south, where my Kalembre Feijão lies. In 1725, there was a great massacre, in which the young leader Karão directed all of our people to retreat, to gain strength for this hunt, which would last for five generations. In the beginning of the 2000s, in consultation with our leaders, our people decided that it was time to break the silence. That’s when preparations began, and the choices of who would lead each function. In 2005, the first stage of spiritual preparation was completed by the youth who were going to contribute their strength to the movement, along with the troncos sábios [wise elders with many descendants]. In 2018, the Karão Jaguaribaras people sought out the Indigenous movement to reinforce our struggle and break the silence.
2. How did you first hear about Covid-19?
I had already heard about Covid-19 by January 2020, on social networks
3. What did you think the pandemic would be like? Did you imagine that it would last so long?
I imagined that it would be nature’s response, orchestrated by the spirit Haynhangá, to the great Eurocentric chaos.
4. How did social distancing work in your village?
When it became a pandemic, we closed Kalembre’s doors, nobody enters nobody leaves, and we isolated those with symptoms from everyone else.
5. What measures were developed to combat the virus?
Due to the fact that we lack professional assistance for specialized health for Indigenous people, to fight the virus, we avoided being in groups, and selected people to do the day-to-day shopping. Those who were chosen, upon arrival in Kalembre, have to take a bath in hot tea. We increased the consumption of vitamins, fruits, and leafy vegetables, to increase immunity.
6. Did you receive any help from people or organizations outside of the village?
Help during the pandemic has been very modest, in comparison with our real need. However, during the pandemic, we had contributions from Funai [the National Indian Foundation] (hygiene kits and basic food packages, and also from the Municipal Secretariat for Social Assistance of Canindé. From the Federation of Indigenous Peoples and Organizations of Ceará (Fepoince) and from the Center for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights of the Archdiocese of Fortaleza (CDPDH), we received some mask kits.
7. Was there a confirmed case in the village?
In terms of Covid-19 cases, we still haven’t managed to get tests to know the level of the disease in our Kalembre. However, a number of people have had symptoms.
8. How have you felt during the isolation?
We feel impotent in the face of this catastrophe, because we realize in this reality we are re-experiencing secular problems, which grew even worse during the pandemic.
9. Do you think things will return to normal when the pandemic is over?
Each second that passes is unique. We are experiencing a genesis and we don’t have control of this rushing river, since we are just fish navigating in this flood.
10. Would you like to say anything else that you think is important?
The real situation of the Karão today is one of total abandonment in the midst of this pandemic. In the months of March and April, people began to feel severe symptoms and turned to social support and health agencies at the municipal, state and federal levels, but there was almost no concrete progress. Today, here in Kalembre, there are people with various symptoms and we don’t know who to turn to anymore. It is also worth remembering that universality is a fundamental precept of health access ̶ in addition to respect for the diversity of Indigenous peoples ̶ a precept that is in the 1988 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Brazil. Amidst this pandemic, we don’t even have a single vehicle to get to a hospital’s urgent care and emergency rooms if we need to. I believe that it isn’t easy for anyone, but we feel the lack of these hands of solidarity, especially those that know the reality of every Indigenous people.