Carnivorous fish are among the most consumed by the Munduruku and the most contaminated by mercury. Scientists suspect the toxic metal, found in the bodies of the members of this indigenous community is seriously affecting the health of adults and children who are born with malformations and developmental delays. Munduruku women already avoid getting pregnant.
Although living 186 miles away from the area along the Tapajós River where illegal mining is concentrated, Santarém’s inhabitants are at high risk of mercury poisoning.
Scientists emphasize that reducing the threats of contagion by zoonoses depends on “landscape immunity”, but in Brazil, the maintenance of large conserved environments runs into loopholes and delays in implementing the Forest Code.
Eronilde Fermin is the chief of the Omágua Kambeba in São Paulo de Olivença, in the Brazilian Amazon. The following is an account of the struggle of unequal forces she faces when trying to guarantee indigenous education, medical care during the pandemic, and protection against invaders.